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COVID 19 Information and Return to Boating

This page has some key information for affiliated organisations and individuals, specific to Northern Ireland. These are a supplement to the RYA FAQs.

The Covid-19 outbreak continues to be rapidly evolving situation  and we will continue to engage with government officials to seek clarification and provide updates swiftly.  We will share information and provide guidance to allow people to make informed decisions based upon latest advice.

If you have any questions about aspects on this page, please contact

The RYA COVID 19 central hub contains all relevant and up to date information including FAQs for clubs and centres and information for recreational boaters, self employed individuals, marinas etc.

Current Situation

Latest Update 20th October  2020: 

Clubs should note:

Social distancing and Covid-safe protocols remain in place so any club activity will have to aim to comply with that guidance. “Everyone in the sports sector needs to take responsibility for and comply with hygiene and social distancing directives to ensure a safe return to sport.”    

From 13th October

  • Individuals may not have visitors onboard their boat below deck/ ‘indoors’ from another household (unless part of a 'bubble')

From 1800 16th October (for a period of 4 weeks, subject to review). 

  • Individuals are asked to not undertake any ‘unnecessary travel’
  • Overnighting onboard is currently not acceptable, unless a) it is your main residence or b) you meet one of the “reasonable excuse” exceptions to the rule.  
  • Where any courses are being delivered and can be done remotely, they should do so (e.g. shore based). Any essential face to face engagements should only be a necessary and unavoidable part of the course.
  • Where possible, activity should be undertaken as an individual (e.g. single-handed sailing or windsurfing), as a group from the same household or with a ‘linked household’.
  • Multi-handed craft may  have members from different households where social distancing of 2m can take place.  If for short periods it is necessary to come closer than this, suitable mitigation must be in place.  The total accumulated time spent under 2m should be limited - please refer to our Guidance for sailing/ racing for mixed households.
  • ‘Elite athletes’ are named athletes as part of the RYANI High Performance and select Academy Programme.  
  • Activity where gathering numbers can exceed 15 people is not permitted– this applies both to e.g. training and racing/ competition.  A risk assessment in place no longer allows this number to be exceeded.  
  • Hospitality announcements will affect club bars and restaurants, which must close unless for delivery or take away service. 
  • We advise that clubs/ facilities should only have restricted access and where any use would be deemed absolutely essential at this stage.  This may be e.g. in an emergency situation.

*  Risk Assessments and all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus must be in place, including implementing the protective measures identified in its risk assessment and complying with any relevant guidance issued by a Northern Ireland Department. 

NI Coronavirus Regulations

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020 are available here. These now include a guidance document outlining areas that are legislation and those that are guidance.

Return to Boating



RYA Guiding Principles

The RYA's guiding principles will underpin all guidance across the boating community.

1. Our guidance

Covid-19 preventative measures are vital in keeping you, your family and others safe and to minimise pressure on frontline services. The RYA will continue to support the National effort to control the spread of Covid-19 and assist members of the RYA family with any variations that might develop at a local level.  We support the Government’s desire to return to normality in a measured way and we recognise that we have a role to play by providing guidance to the RYA community on the application of the 2020 Regulations.

2. Our approach is considerate and conservative

Considerate: be mindful of the potential impact that you could have on other water users and do not place unnecessary extra strain on the RNLI and emergency services.

Conservative: help to minimise incident and accidents by taking an extra cautious approach to your boating.

Our guidance on safe boating remains unchanged: know your limits; look after yourself; keep in touch and, above all, have a plan. As the restrictions are relaxed, we advise boaters to think about these factors.  The RNLI and the RYA have also worked in collaboration to produce joint safety guidance to help ensure that this summer is as safe as it can be.


Recreational Boating in Northern Ireland

Individuals may use the RYA Principles and outlined framework elements as a guide to help make informed decisions before undertaking any activity.

With the nature of NI Executive and Department announcements, RYANI updates guidance based on the latest announcements that have varied from what has been outlined in frameworks and the NI Executive Document.  We recommend checking the ‘Current Situation’ on the above , outlining the latest announcements.

We remain engaged in seeking clarification on specific elements of guidance and will share this further once received.  Different scenarios can also be found through our FAQ section below.

Relevant Guidance (available in document section above):

  • RYANI Latest Guidance
  • Guidance for sailing racing with different households

Further Considerations for boaters:

  • Check Access - Are car parks, slipways, marinas, boat parks etc open and what guidelines are in place? Each venue, including council-owned facilities, will make their own decisions about when their facilities are ready to open and can be operated safely.
    The NI Environment Agency (DAERA) will be collating and publishing information on the opening of public amenities.   
  • Check the latest Government Guidelines   
  • Be Prepared before undertaking activity prior to arrival at any shared space. (e.g. can you change prior to arrival? Have you checked your equipment prepared?) View the RYA and RNLI Better Boating Guide

We realise there will be a number of specific questions and have already started gathering some of these through our Forums in order to share communications as swiftly and effectively as possible.  We have put together some updates in the form of FAQs below.

Further information:

UK guidance can be found on the RYA Return to Boating page.


For Clubs and Recognised Training Centres

The Covid-19 outbreak continues to be rapidly evolving situation that presents a number of complex challenges and decisions for all service-based organisations. The RYA has developed guidance for clubs and training centres in order to help assess how to make premises and activity as safe as possible under the current restrictions.  Further discussions will take place through our ongoing engagement forums.

Legionellas Disease
The RYA has released new Guidance for Clubs and Recognised Training Centres (RTCs) regarding the control of Legionella bacteria. The Guidance, COVID-19 Clubs and the control of Legionella’s Disease covers areas such as the key facts about the Legionella bacteria, recommended control measures that clubs/RTCs should implement, as well as the symptoms of Legionnaires' disease.

Please see links below for various guidance, resources, videos and forums about restarting boating and racing activity below:

The guidance below should be read alongside the Latest RYA Northern Ireland Guidance (above) that acts as a summary document of key aspects of legislation and Executive guidance specific to Northern Ireland. 

Relevant Guidance (available in document section above):

  • RYANI Latest Guidance
  • RYANI Club Guidance cover letter  (pdf)
  • RYANI Club Guidance Document v2.2 
  • Club Guidance Appendix 1  Tools for implementation
  • RYANI Guide for Return to Racing V3
  • Guidance for sailing racing with different households (pdf) V1
  • Guidance for RYA Training Centres (pdf)


 Date Topic  Sign up

 23rd June 1500

How can your club plan to safely restart racing activity  Sign up
 30th June 1500 How can your club plan to safely reopen its buildings  Sign up
 7th July 1500  How can your club plan to safely restart training activity  Sign up
23rd July 1500  Club forum on latest announcements  Sign Up
11th Aug 1500  Sponsorship, income generation and Grants  Sign up
12th Oct 1900  Regulation and Guidance update  Sign up

Further Resources


FAQs for Northern Ireland

We have developed a number of FAQs to help clubs, centres, and individuals when it comes to being able to get back on the water as the easing of restrictions take place and as part of the Return to Boating Strategy.   

This will be updated as we receive more information or guidance and is outlined in 5 sections:

  1. General Questions
  2. Recreational Activity
  3. Structured Activity
  4. Competition
  5. Facilities


Public Health Agency Advice

Latest Public Health Agency advice in Northern Ireland is available.  

Further advice can also be found through NI Direct

Information on Northern Ireland Contact Tracing can be found here

Financial Support Packages

Latest update: 2nd October 2020

The Government  ‘support finder’ tool to help businesses and self-employed people across the UK (including NI) to quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the coronavirus pandemic. The Government Business Support Tool can be found here

A number of support packages have been put in place in support of Northern Irish individuals, businesses and organisations.  These can also be found at the NI Direct and webpages.

NICVA 's Fund and Fund Raising Page is also another valuable source of potential information for the voluntary sector.

Sports Hardship Fund (updated 2nd October)

The Department of Communities and SportNI has reopened the Sports Hardship Fund of £2 million following additional funding received in the June monitoring round.  This includes £2,000 grants for clubs not already in receipt of support packages (please see criteria) and potential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for clubs. 

Initially opened on 14 April the Sports Hardship Fund has so far provided support totalling over £1m to help over 500 sports clubs maintain facilities during the lockdown. The next phase will prioritise new applications for £2,000 and now includes club and organisations who ‘block book’ (hire) their facilities as well as owning or leasing facilities.

Returning applicants may also apply for a £1,000 top up to their award if they have fully expended the initial £2,000 SportNI

Covid Safe Sports Pack

Sport NI, in partnership with the Department for Communities, have opened the COVID Safe Sport Pack Programme for expressions of interest from eligible organisations to receive a pack. The programme aims to assist Sports organisations with their management of the ease of lockdown and a safe return to sport during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Rates Relief extended to Clubs in Northern Ireland

The Department of Finance has announced a £100m emergency rates package for businesses. All NI businesses will pay zero rates for the next three months (April, May, June). A further £213 million rates support package for businesses was announced on 19 May 2020 including the extension of the rates holiday and rates relief for sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, including Sports Facilities.

£40 million micro-business Hardship fund

On 20th May, Economy Minister, Diane Dodds has announced   the £40m NI Micro-business Hardship Fund will open to applications. The grant scheme is targeted at businesses with one to nine employees facing immediate cash flow difficulties due to Covid-19 – this includes eligible social enterprises.   Full criteria is available here

Business Grants extension to clubs

The Northern Ireland Executive has announced (20th April) the extension of the £25,000 Business Grants scheme to include the leisure sector (naming sports clubs as eligible), for those with a Net Annual Value (NAV) between £15,001 to £51,000 (subject to some exclusions).   Please note the closing date for scheme registrations is 20 May 2020. 

There is still currently an assessment of the exclusion of the sports sector to £10,000 Small Business grants (i.e. those with a NAV of under £15,000), Clubs, however, who do not receive Sport and Recreation Relief may be eligible to apply.

£10,000 small business grant scheme is open, however,  to businesses that occupy a rental property or your business owns the property that it occupies and the property has a Total NAV of £1,590 or below. Details here

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Companies are to receive 3-month extension period to file accounts during COVID-19.

Northern Ireland Water

NI Water is advising non-domestic customers to be mindful of their water needs during the COVID19 outbreak. With many properties closing their doors for a period of time and students leaving rented accommodation, NI Water is asking businesses and property owners to check their water supply is safely secured before they  lock up. Leaking or burst pipes can have significant implications for your business.

Companies House

Applying for more time to file your company’s accounts: How to ask Companies House to extend your filing deadline if an unplanned event stops you filing your accounts.


If you cannot pay your tax bill on time what you need to know before you contact HRMC and what happens when you contact HMRC.


NICVA are offering free access to Granttracker for one month to allow organisation to apply for support through various funding initiatives. NICVA want to help you access all the funders you can, not just new Covid-19 related grants, but also grants for your work after the pandemic. Free GrantTracker Offer in the Covid-19 Crisis


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