Latest COVID-19 guidance for paddling in England

Coastal Sea Kayak Award

10 September 2020, Updated 17 September 2020

Following the recent announcement by the government on social gatherings in England, British Canoeing is pleased to confirm that current paddling activity will not be affected by the new restrictions.

In England, from Monday 14 September, new government guidelines state that when meeting friends and family you do not live with, you must not meet in a group of more than 6, indoors or outdoors.

Sport England the government has confirmed there will be exceptions, including:

  • elite sporting competition and training
  • Education and training
  • organised sport or exercises classes or licensed outdoor physical activity

Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do

You can continue to take part in organised sporting or licensed physical activity in groups of more than 6. This can be in any public place – indoors or outdoors – or a private outdoor space like a garden.

These activities either need to be organised by a national governing body, club, registered instructor/coach, business or charity; and/or involve someone who has received an official license to use equipment relevant to the activity.

In all cases, the organiser must conduct a risk assessment and ensure compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance.

You should only be playing team sports where the relevant governing body has published guidance on how to do so safely. The disciplines of canoe polo and raft racing have recently issued guidance for a return to play.

People can also continue to use leisure facilities, including gyms and pools. People should not go to these venues socially in groups of more than 6.

The exemptions are in place. Organised sports and activities already have stringent plans in place to reduce the risk of Covid-19. This is because venues are classed as Covid-secure due to the measures they have introduced.

The exceptions do not include informal sport or fitness activity which must be limited to a group of 6.

For paddling in England much of the current advice issued by British Canoeing remains in place, including:

From Monday 14 September, informal recreational paddles are limited to a group of 6.  Up to two households in groups of more than 6 people will no longer be permitted.

Formal club, centre or provider activity are part of the exceptions and can continue to be delivered if organised by a qualified coach or instructor, club, company or charity.

Clubs, centres and providers will need to put in place plans and COVID-19 risk assessments to reduce the risk of transmission through the use of any areas of the facility or shared equipment. Every setting will have slightly different considerations.

Following recent confirmation with CIMPSA, DCMS and Sport England, British Canoeing is pleased to confirm that the running of qualifications and awards is allowed under the exemption of education and training.

The disciplines of canoe polo and raft racing have recently issued guidance confirmed by the government for a return to play for team sport, which will continue.  British Canoeing has also issued guidance on a return to competitions and events in England.

Paddlers must practice social distancing at all times and maintain a distance apart of at least 2 metres.

This means a distance of 2 metres between people from different households. Or 1 metre plus mitigations (such as face coverings or avoiding face-to-face contact) where 2 metres is not possible.

This guidance relates only to paddling in England. Policy and guidance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is subject to the devolved governments and their respective national governing bodies.

What happens if there are local lockdowns?

To find out where local restrictions are in place, and what these restrictions are, refer to the local restrictions page on the government’s website which is being kept constantly updated.

You should consult the local guidance for further clarification on the number of people allowed to gather. As well as types of activities that can and can’t take place.

If specific restrictions to physical activity are introduced, they will be noted on the local restrictions page of the government’s website.

The Canal and River Trust also provides updates on any restrictions to paddling and access to waterways due to a local lockdown.

Further information

Full details on the new social distancing rules can be found on the government website Coronavirus (COVID-19): Meeting with others safely (social distancing) and Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do

The DCMS have also updated their guidance for the public on the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation in England.

British Canoeing guidance notes

  1. A return to paddling in England
  2. Return to team sports: rafting racing
  3. Return to team sports: canoe polo
  4. Guidance for Paddlesport Clubs, Centres and Hire Providers
  5. A return to competitions and events in England
  6. Guidance for Paddlesport coaches and leaders
  7. Guidance on British Canoeing Qualifications and Awards
  8. Latest Guidance on British Canoeing Qualifications and Awards in England – September 2020


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