Coronavirus FAQs

See below for answers to the Canal & River Trusts’ frequently asked questions regarding coronavirus and boating.

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Our canals, rivers and towpaths remain open for use, other than for extended stoppages to complete planned maintenance works, or as a result of recent flood damage. While travelling along a canal by boat does not necessarily put people in close contact with others, boaters may decide to take some precautions. These could include washing hands after using locks and mooring at quieter places. Boaters should follow the Government’s guidelines on reducing the risk of catching coronavirus.

We will apply the same approach as if you’re suffering from any short-term illness or accident. If you inform us we’ll be able to make any necessary adjustments while you self-isolate. In general, we will still expect boats to comply with the terms of their licence and to move every 14 days. You can contact the Trust by phoning 03030 40 40 40 or contacting us online.

Please contact us using the details above. We will work with partners to support boaters self-isolating as best we can without adding to the risk of transmission.

The Government is advising those over 70 to avoid all unnecessary social contact with others, so we advise that you should organise your boating to limit your contact with others as far as possible.

We are proactively contacting boaters who we know to be in a high risk group, including those with equality adjustments, those who have told us they are pregnant, and those who have told us they are over 70. We are letting them know their options and that we’re here to assist if they have any questions or concerns.

The work and ministry of Waterways Chaplains at this time is especially important, especially for those who are isolated and financially challenged by the crisis. Much of that support may be via phone or email to minimise physical contact.

We know that most of the boating community is very supportive of one another. In such times as these, we ask all boaters to look out for the more vulnerable members of the community. This could mean saving spaces near facilities for those in need, and not overstaying on popular moorings. While we are contacting those boaters we know are in high risk groups, if you know a boater who may also be vulnerable please let us know.

All the Navigation Authorities covered by the boat safety scheme agree that it is essential that it continues to protect the physical safety of those around the waterways. The scheme will continue to apply to all appropriate craft on their navigations. Examiners and others involved with the delivery of the scheme will be given further advice. The scheme is following Government guidance and advice will be updated accordingly.

We are not able to offer payment holidays but please get in touch with us if you are having payment difficulties.

Yes, you can still contact our Customer Service Team to licence craft.  As many of our customers have lots of questions there may be a longer wait time for calls to be answered and we ask that callers are patient as we will get to your call as soon as possible. The best course of action is to register to self serve via our web licensing portal.

Register to self serve via our web licensing portal. Look for the ‘Do It All Online’ section where you will be prompted to register (if you haven’t already done so). You can apply for a new licence or renew your current licence and it will be emailed to you immediately.

Whilst our offices are still operational your licence documents will be posted to you, including licence discs and direct debit schedules.  There may be some delays due to skeleton staff in offices. Please accept our apologies. Please note that your licence is valid from the point you receive confirmation of successful submission of either your renewal or application.

We have contingency plans in place to ensure we can continue to provide our day-do-day service.

Yes, these are still available. Wherever possible please purchase these from our online shop to reduce social contact with others – but please order well in advance as they may take longer than usual to be delivered due to reduced staffing in our offices. They are also still available from our offices where these are open, please see here for details.

Yes. We have contingency plans to ensure we can continue to provide our day-do-day service, with our employees, volunteers and partners working to keep our waterways safe, and Trust facilities open and available for use.

In line with the government advice to all, it is advisable to wash your hands or use hand gels frequently to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus.

We know that the boating community is a close-knit one and that in many areas people will be looking out for each other and helping with things like shopping for those who are having to self-isolate. If you are completely isolated and there is no-one who can help you, please get in touch and working with our partners we’ll try to do what we can to help.

In line with Government’s advice to avoid social venues we have taken the decision to close all of our Trust operated attractions, cafes and retail sites this week. They will all close to the public by Friday 20th March. The sites affected are: Anderton Boat Lift Visitor Centre, National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port, National Waterways Museum, Gloucester, Pontcysyllte Visitor Centre, Standedge Visitor Centre and Stoke Bruerne Museum and cafe.

Where possible we will continue to support volunteering across the Trust’s network if individual volunteers want to continue with their roles. We are contacting all of our volunteers to make sure that they are willing to continue in the roles; the Trust believes that the welfare of our employees, volunteers and their families is of paramount importance, along with the safety and welfare of those who use our waterways. We will continue to make decisions about the availability of volunteers at our various locations accordingly. Our general approach remains to follow the guidance and advice being given by the Government. We continually monitor the Public Health England (PHE) site and our response and approach will change as official Government advice develops.

The Trust does not provide fuel for boaters directly, but fuel should still be available from the usual sources such as marinas, boat yards and fuel boats.

Supplied by the Canal & River Trust.