As England starts a 4 week lockdown, British Marine has been seeking clarity from the UK Government on how the new restrictions will impact our members and the leisure marine sector.
During a meeting with DEFRA officials on Monday 2 November, British Marine was informed that no sector specific guidance would be produced and instead, individual businesses should interpret and comply with high level government guidance published on the Gov.uk website.
Where British Marine has been able to gather some specific clarity from Government, DEFRA officials have stated they do not consider private individuals visiting their boats for maintenance or winterisation purposes as an essential activity for leaving their primary place of residence.
DEFRA has confirmed that under PART 4 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 4) Regulations 2020, a member of the public can pay a business to maintain their boat on their behalf during the lockdown.
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. Guidance states; “There is no restriction on the type of activity you can do when exercising, provided that you are within the permitted gathering limits.” Furthermore, it confirms; “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 would advise to check with local marinas, navigation authorities and clubs beforehand.
British Marine understands that members seek clear unambiguous guidance and that is why we will continue to press the UK government for further, sector specific guidance. However, 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 would allow boatyards to provide maintenance and winterisation services.
- Chandleries and other non-essential retail will need to close for the 4 week period but can continue with click and collect and delivery services
- Passenger vessel operations (unless being used for essential transport), charters and hire boat operations will need to stop operations for the 4 week period
- Brokerage and boat showrooms will need to close to the public for the 4 weeks. 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. See the BM/YBDSA joint statement for yacht brokers here
- 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. A full TYHA statement can be found on the BM website here.
Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine, “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. 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.”
To keep up to date with all the latest COVID-19 advice and guidance from British Marine, please visit www.britishmarine.co.uk/coronavirus.