Last Updated: 31st July 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

Latest Update 28th July: 

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 26th June
  • Overnight stays onboard can now take place with the easing of restrictions on second homes.

From 29th June

  • Social Distancing - remains at 2 metres unless you use mitigating measures, which could allow a reduction to a minimum of 1 metre.   The NI Executive has reiterated that 2 metres remains the optimum.

1st July announcements (revised 17th July)

  • Group numbers - please refer to RYANI Latest Guidance as these vary dependant on the nature of activity
  • Resumption of outdoor sporting activity from  is entirely conditional on robust protocols being in place, communicated, fully understood and complied with by all participants.

From 3rd July

  • Bars/ restaurants in Registered Clubs can  open alongside the hospitality sector from 3rd July.  A register should be kept  of those present on the premises to assist in contact tracing if necessary.     
  • Bars, including those in members’ clubs (registered clubs) which only serve alcohol, are not permitted to open at the present time unless they have outdoor spaces, such as beer gardens and (where their licence permits them to do so) they will be able to serve alcohol in these spaces on a table service basis. 

From 11th July

  • Competitive sport may resume but with no spectators and with social distancing and Covid-safe protocols in place.

From 24th July

  • Clubs can now open their facilities* –including training and changing rooms** not including (for the time being) the indoor ‘wet’ bar.
  • Gatherings indoor or outdoor may now consist of over 30 people as long as for the purpose of (among others) recreation, outdoor sport or education (in our case RTC training).*

*The caveat to allow this is that clubs/operators must ensure that for each event (or gathering) one person, who is responsible for the gathering, must have appropriate Risk Assessments and take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus, including implementing the protective measures identified in its risk assessment and complying with any relevant guidance issued by a Northern Ireland Department.  

**Please note: changing rooms and showers still remain an area of increased risk of transmissions. Clubs should be sure that they are managing their use in particular. It may be advisable to continue to encourage members/users to change at home. For more guidance on management of changing facilities, please view English Government guidance and out RYANI Club Guidance document below.

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. 

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 will now be updating 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.

RYA Northern Ireland Guidance


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:

RYA Northern Ireland Guidance


Recognised Training Centres



 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



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: 21st July 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 21st July)

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. 

The original Hardship fund in April was oversubscribed and closed to applications after 48 hours and so clubs are urged to apply swiftly.

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