DEFRA rules on recreational boating
British Marine says it has been seeking clarity from the UK Government on how the new lockdown will impact the leisure marine sector. The good news is you can use your boat for recreational purposes.
But according to British Marine, DEFRA officials have stated they do not consider private individuals visiting their boats for maintenance, or winterisation purposes, as an essential activity. But, DEFRA has confirmed a member of the public can pay a business to maintain their boat on their behalf during the lockdown.
DEFRA officials told British Marine that no sector specific guidance would be produced and instead, individual businesses should interpret and comply with high level government guidance already published.
DCMS has now confirmed that recreational boating can be part of an outdoor exercise regime either alone, with 1 other person, or within your household or bubble, with guidance stating: “There is no restriction on the type of activity you can do when exercising, provided that you are within the permitted gathering limits. All forms of water sports practised on open waterways, including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and the use of privately owned motorised craft (in line with the guidance issued by the relevant navigation authority) are allowed provided that the guidance on social distancing is observed.” However, British Marine advises checking with local marinas, navigation authorities and clubs beforehand.
British Marine says it will seek clear unambiguous guidance but until that is forthcoming, current interpretation of the regulations is as follows:
Private individuals can use their boats for exercise and therefore deliver their vessel to a boatyard for maintenance or winterisation. However, current DEFRA guidance does not allow the boat owner to visit their vessel to conduct maintenance themselves.
Areas of industry where workers cannot work from home can stay open with Covid-19 secure protocols in place. This allows boatyards to provide maintenance and winterisation services.
Chandleries and other non-essential retail need to close but can continue with click and collect and delivery services.
Passenger vessel operations (unless being used for essential transport), charters and hire boat operations need to stop operations.
Brokerage and boat showrooms need to close to the public. The regulations specifically say ‘Showrooms and other premises, including outdoor areas, used for the sale or hire of caravans, boats or any vehicle which can be propelled by mechanical means, and car washes’ should close. The restrictions do not prevent such businesses from remaining open to respond to orders or order queries either through a website or otherwise by on-line communication, by telephone or by post.
Marinas can remain open, however, no overnight stays are allowed on boats except for residential berth holders (where the boat is their primary residence) or for business purposes. Toilets and showers can remain open for site users. For the above reasons, access and access control systems may remain open however, marinas should remind their berth holders to adhere to government rules for England requiring people to stay at home, except for specific purposes.
“Whilst the current lockdown has seen many more businesses continue to stay open, there are still many who need further information over the exemptions and of course the continued financial support packages provided by government,” says Lesley Robinson, British Marine CEO.
“We will continue to support and represent the best interests of these businesses throughout the pandemic. The British Marine coronavirus hub, which is accessible to all, will be updated with the very latest advice, together with business support tools and further guidance.”