Last Updated: 29th May 2020

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

On 19th May the NI Health Minister  signed the amendment to Coronavirus Restrictions permitting 'Outdoor Activity', this includes:  All forms of water-sports practised on open waterways – sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and the use of motorised craft (in line with navigation authority guidance).

An individual may leave their place of residence with ‘reasonable excuse’ and the latest announcements now also permits:

  • Outdoor activities (work and leisure) during which social distancing can be maintained for individuals who do not share a household contact and where there is no shared contact with hard surfaces  
  • Outdoor gatherings of up to six people not from the same household will be allowed but everyone must adhere to social distancing and public health guidelines.

Further notifications include:

  • Councils will be authorised to act as enforcement bodies with regards the safe operation of not just their own household waste facilities but sites where certain types of exercise is permissible.
  • The NI Executive is also encouraging people to ‘stay local’

Further detail on the NI Executives Approach to Decision making can be found here.  

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020 are available here

Return to Boating

We are working on a range of guidance and resources to help clubs, members and the wider boating community in Northern Ireland prepare for a safe return to the water. These resources will ensure that boaters can return to activities on the water as quickly and safely as possible and can be found on this page as they become available.  Further UK guidance can be found on the RYA Return to Boating page.

RYA Guiding Principles

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

1.     Always follow Government advice.
The COVID-19 preventative measures are vital to protecting health and wellbeing and to minimise pressure on frontline services. We all have a role to play by following the Government guidelines.

We will, as a boating community, take a considerate and conservative approach

         •         Be 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.

         •         Be conservative:
help to minimise risk by taking an extra conservative approach to your boating.

We want to ensure that the health and safety of the boating community across Northern Ireland remains the number one priority and that we move gradually and conservatively through each Step as restrictions ease. 

With a wide range of boating activity and contexts, whether partaking as an individual from a public slip or  through a club, these principles should always be considered. 

Recreational Boating in Northern Ireland

Caution will be important at each step but especially during Steps 1 and 2 of the Executive’s Pathway to recovery. Individuals may use the RYA Principles and outlined framework elements as a guide to help make informed decisions before undertaking any activity.

Under the approved SportNI Framework:

  • All forms of water-sports practised on open waterways are allowed – sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and the use of motorised craft (in line with navigation authority guidance) 
  • Outdoor activities are permitted for small groups of ≤ 6 people who do not share a household 
  • Do not travel with someone from outside your household unless social distancing can be maintained 
  • Maintain social distancing with all outside of your household.  
  • Individuals should operate at low risk and within their capabilities. Higher risk water-based activities discouraged as they may lead to increased pressure on emergency services
  • Aim for no shared contact with hard surfaces e.g. equipment. If unavoidable disinfect surfaces between use by different participants / groups. 
  • Indoor facilities closed with the exception of restricted access to small shared facilities e.g. storage area / toilet / through-ways. These should be disinfected regularly with sanitation products available.

Further Considerations:

  • 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?)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 Club Forums in order to share communications as swiftly and effectively as possible.  We have put together some updates in the form of FAQs.

RYANI FAQs for Return to Boating (PDF)

Further information

  • Get your powerboat ready video
  • Boat Maintenance windsurf checks video
  • RYA Return to Boating & Social distance sailing video

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 with clubs through our ongoing Club Forums.

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




Public Health Agency Advice 

Latest Public Health Agency advice in Northern Ireland is available.  

Further advice can also be found through NI Direct

Financial Support Packages

Latest update: 26th May 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.

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.

Sports Hardship Fund

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA has  launched a £500,000 Hardship Fund for the sports sector on 14th April.   Sports clubs and sporting organisations from the voluntary and community sector, which are unable to receive support from other Government Covid-19 Mitigation Funds, will be able to apply to Sport NI for a small grant of £2,000 to help with immediate financial commitments to maintain their facilities during the Covid-19 restrictions. 

This fund was oversubscribed and is currently closed until further notice.

£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