Thedetail on official timescales, however, was not announced, but indicated thelegislation should be enacted once signed off by the Health Minister
The RYANI has welcomed theannouncement that paves the way for the boating community to return to thewater, where social distancing and other parameters can be strictly adhered to.The guidance specifically cites social distancing for individuals who do notshare a household contact and where there is no shared contact with hardsurfaces.
It essentially moves wateractivity into Step 1 of the Executive’s plan and, once officially enacted,the legislation allows individuals, or those from the same household, to get onthe water. Further Sector steps werealso announced, including ‘outdoor gatherings of up to six people not from thesame household (…) but everyone must adhere to social distancing and publichealth guidelines.’
RYANI’s Chief Operating Officerexplains: “The change to legislation permitting outdoor activity now allows recreationalactivity on the water, where the necessary parameters are in place. We have been seeking clarification from governmentagencies and have been assured key messaging is to come out soon. We urge that any activity is always done ina conservative and considerate manner to help safeguard publichealth and not put any additional pressure on the emergency services.
He continues: “Individuals should alsotake time to check all their equipment before going afloat. Boats, boards, engines etc. have been out ofaction for a period of time, make sure you thoroughly check your boat over andgradually test your equipment on the water.”
Gareth Morrison, RNLI Head of WaterSafety, adds: "We completely understand that people will want to take tothe water, particularly as the weather improves. Our volunteer lifeboat crewsare still ready to respond during the public health crisis. However, we areurging anyone who is planning a return to the water to follow key water safetyadvice, which includes ensuring equipment is maintained and functioningcorrectly, and making sure that lifesaving apparatus is available. By followingthis advice we can work together to enjoy a safer summer and reduce the demandon our crews and other emergency services."
RYANI shared guidance to clubs lastweek, to allow some preparations to begin, including undertaking risk assessmentsfor club-specific activities and facilities. We would ask that all members of clubs and the wider community bepatient as any parameters in clubs (that are predominantly volunteer-run) areput in place to protect individuals from the risk of infection.
As further clarification andguidance from government is provided, RYANI will share the necessary advice andinformation to assure that risk is minimised and public health prioritised.
Further analysis of remaining Steps is beingsought in order to assess when further activity, outside recreational boating,could take place.
Pic: Windsurfers onStrangford Lough