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COVID-19: Latest update on paddling activities in England

Latest update 22 February 2021

Latest Covid-19 government guidance - roadmap out of lockdown

The government has issued new guidance that applies to England on the four-step roadmap out of lockdown.

From 8 March, people will be allowed to leave home for recreation and exercise outdoors either alone, with their household or support bubble, or with one person from outside their household.  Children and young people will be able to take part in sport and activity at school as part of educational provision and wraparound care.

Within the current lockdown guidelines in England, recreational paddling is a permitted form of exercise, limited to once a day and staying local. Full details published on 7 January 2021 can be found below.

From 29 March, outdoor gatherings of either 6 people (the Rule of 6) or 2 households will be allowed.

Also from 29 March outdoor sports facilities will be allowed to reopen, and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports. Indoor sports facilities will remain closed until later in the roadmap.

We will update our guidance once more information is published by DCMS and Sport England.

Paddling activities in England: published 7 January 2021

Following the Coronavirus (Covid-19) government announcement in January regarding new guidance for the national lockdown in England, British Canoeing has received confirmation that paddling for exercise on the waterways is permitted.

We recognise that decisions that apply to activities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be taken by the devolved administrations. For further information and current advice contact Scottish Canoe Association, Canoe Wales and Canoe Association of Northern Ireland.

British Canoeing has been in conversations with Sport England and the waterways authorities to seek clarity for our members and the paddlesport community.

Guidance issued by Sport England the Environment AgencyCanal and River Trust and the Broads Authority confirms that navigations are open and paddling activities permitted as part of daily exercise within the government guidelines. 

The government guidance states that:

  • Outdoor exercise is still permitted, but should be limited to once per day
  • Outdoor exercise should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area if necessary to find an open space to exercise (such as a publicly accessible place to launch)
  • Organised and structured outdoor sporting activity must not take place
  • All indoor and outdoor sports clubs, centres, venues and facilities will need to close

Paddling for exercise is permitted within the government measures, so long as you are:

  • by yourself 
  • with the people you live with 
  • with your support bubble (if you’re legally permitted to form one) 
  • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare 
  • when on your own, with one person from another household while following social distancing.

Children under five, and up to two carers for a disabled person needing continuous care, are not counted towards the gatherings limits for exercising outside.

Personal equipment

We have confirmed with Sport England that collecting personal equipment belonging to an individual, from a facility such as a boathouse, to enable individual exercise is permitted.

Under the new guidelines all sports facilities must close.  Therefore when collecting personal equipment the facility must be closed for public use and not be used to hire out equipment. 

Therefore we advise club members that once you have accessed your personal equipment to store it at home and to launch only from a public space.

Staying Safe

At this time of national lockdown British Canoeing encourages all of our members to paddle responsibly and follow the government guidelines at all times, when paddling for exercise.

Our priority remains to protect the health of our members and the paddlesport community, to help to suppress the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

We recommend that members continue to follow the COVID-19 public health guidelines. 

We fully advocate staying safe on the water particularly during the winter months.

Individual paddlers should restrict their paddlesport activities to environments which are well within their capabilities, alert friends and family to their activity and predicted return times, and ensure they have a means to call for help with them at all times.

Paddlers should be fully prepared for winter conditions. A guide to staying safe during winter paddling is available on the Go Paddling website.

Key guidance on...

Social distancing - Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household - meaning the people you live with - or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).

Outdoor exercise limits - Exercise should be limited to once per day.

Travel - Outdoor exercise should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area if necessary to find an open space to exercise (such as a publicly accessible place to launch).

Waterways licence - Paddlers are reminded that a waterways licence is required to paddle on licensed waterways. Full details on membership is available on the British Canoeing website.

Coaching - Personal training/coaching can continue one-on-one. Sessions must take place in a public outdoor spaces, as long as social distancing is maintained. Sessions cannot take place in private gardens.

A coach/personal trainer can see multiple clients on the same day as they would be in attendance for work purposes. Social distancing must be always maintained and clients shouldn’t overlap with one another.

A thorough risk assessment for all activity and appropriate safety frameworks should be in place. Any coaching of under 18s and adults at risk on a 1:1 basis should be avoided. Coaches are reminded of the principles of British Canoeing’s safeguarding policy.

Clubs and centres/events and competitions

The latest lockdown restrictions require all paddling events and competitions to be suspended and for all paddling clubs and water sports centres/facilities to close. 

Organised outdoor sport must not take place. However, there is an exemption that organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue.

Club premises, centres and sports facilities must remain closed. Personal equipment belonging to an individual should be made accessible. However, the facility must be closed for public use and not be used to hire out equipment.

Therefore we advise club members that once you have accessed your personal equipment to store it at home and to launch only from a public space.

Elite sport

Elite sport training has been identified as an exemption and is defined by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to include professional sport and lottery funded athletes within Olympic and Paralympic sports. 

This does allow for National Lottery funded athletes in the sprint, slalom and paracanoe World Class Programmes to continue to train, subject to full compliance with a number of detailed Covid-19 requirements laid out in the new government measures. 

We are grateful to the National Water Sports Centre, Lee Valley White Water Centre and Dorney Lake, who have worked in partnership with us in order to facilitate these arrangements.