THE Canal & River Trust will be issuing a special weekly Boater’s Update for at least the next six weeks as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has issued two special e-bulletins in the past week to provide important government guidance and changes to the processes such as the temporary suspension of 14 day movements. CRT’s website FAQs are also being updated daily with any relevant additional information.
Trust staff have contacted all boaters with existing equality adjustments (EAs) and have asked any boater who is within the Government’s high-risk groups to make contact.
A spokesman said: “We will be communicating on a weekly basis with those with EAs and boaters who have self-identified to ask them to contact us if they need any additional help or support for example with help accessing essential services such as water/waste, or need help getting supplies.”
Those suffering genuine financial hardship as a result of the crisis can get in touch via their local boat licence support team or the online web form.
CRT has also begun contacting continuous cruiser boaters to try and identify privately provided boater facilities they are dependent on. It will then be working with private providers to try and ensure that access is maintained to essential boater facilities during the lockdown.
Customer service phone lines have temporarily reduced to 9am-5pm Monday to Friday as staff answering calls have now all moved to home working. There is cover for emergencies at weekends.
The winter relaxation on short-stay visitor moorings is being extended until the end of April and will be kept under review if the government restrictions continue beyond then.
Working with other partners, CRT has also agreed a temporary extension to boat safety certificates due to renew in the coming weeks.
More than 3000 posters reiterating that whilst they remain open, towpath use should now be limited, have been downloaded and thousands have been put up across the network.
CRT has temporarily closed all of its staffed structures for all but essential journeys. It has also instigated contingency plans with most staff now home working as most offices are now closed except for essential staff.