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    COVID 19 Information and Return to Boating

    This page has some key information on the Coronavirus guidance and Regulations for affiliated organisations and individuals, specific to Northern Ireland.

    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 etc. and in relation to Scotland, Wales and England.

    Current Situation

    Latest Update: 4th May 2021  (FAQs updated)

    The update below is based upon guidance available to date to best advise the boating community of our understanding of recent announcements, guidance and Regulations.

    From 1st April, the RYANI's Covid 19 Framework for a return to boating activity in Northern Ireland  can be found under related documents library and site links.

    Sport and Leisure has moved through the various sub phases of Step 2 since early April and the Government recently announced the return to competition for limited numbers from the 23rd April.  Further easing of restrictions, including for overnight stays and hospitality have also been given indicative dates.   These are all reflected in the RYANI's Framework and FAQs.

    Latest Government advice and announcements are available on the NI Direct Webpage : what the restrictions mean for you.


    The information is tailored towards RYA affiliated clubs and recognised training centres as well as individual members and the wider boating community across Northern Ireland.   It is designed to aid your decision-making process and planning, not to replace it. The decision to go boating ultimately lies with the individual concerned. There are fines in place for those deemed to be in breach of the regulations and it is essential that you properly assess whether any activity is permitted within the most recent Government guidance and regulations.

    The RYANI fully supports the effort against COVID 19 and we would thank the boating community for doing their part in following the spirit of the regulations and guidance. It is possible to go boating as a recognised form of activity, following the rules outlined at that time, however restrictions for certain activities are likely to remain in place and may mean activity will need adapted or may not be able to take place at this time. 

    The Sport and Leisure sector has been allowed the first easing of restrictions, as such any activity should be conservative of risk and not go beyond what is outlined in this guidance.  We also check other guidance in relations to relevant sectors in order to best advise members, clubs and organisations of what may be possible.

    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 Executive’s Recovery Plan 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 2021 regulations.

    Our approach

    Our guidance on safe boating remains unchanged: know your limits; look after yourself; keep in touch and, above all, have a plan; we advise boaters to think carefully about these factors.  As always, we should carefully consider the potential impact that we could have on other water users when we go afloat and ensure that we do not place any unnecessary strain on the RNLI, Independent Lifeboats and other emergency services.

    We can do this by helping to minimise risk and by taking an extra considerate approach to our boating. We also ask that all members and participants follow a Conservative and Considerate approach when deciding to undertake any activity:

    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.

    Process for easing of restrictions

    The NI Executive has clearly outlined the restrictions over this period are to help reduce the R rate (rate of infection).   The Executive will formally review restrictions every 4 weeks, starting from 16th March 2021.     Where there are ongoing or clear breaches of protocols reported to the Public Health Agency, there is a risk that allowances may be revoked.  


    The guidance outlined is subject to ongoing review.   This is based upon guidance received, NI Executive announcements and issuing of Regulations. Updated guidance will be  issued as soon as possible on the RYANI Return to Boating Page

    Government Advice

    Full guidance can be found on the relevant NI Direct webpage. and FAQ page

    RYANI staff continue to work from home and certain aspects of RYANI activity have been curtailed with outlined restrictions in place.

    Any guidance is RYANI’s interpretation of the NI executive’s position with regards to the new restrictions for Northern Ireland.   RYA members should review the Executive’s full guidance themselves and follow the latest announcements at  

    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.

    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.


    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. 

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

    These documents are available in the Document Library and related links above and include:

    - RYANI Club Guidance
    - Guidance for restarting Training Activity
    - RYA Major Event Guidance
    - RYANI Guidance for Sailing and Racing in Mixed Households

    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.



    Further Resources


     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: 10th December 2020

    SportNI Sport Sustainability Fund (opened 4th December 2020)

    Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has launched a £25 million fund for Governing Bodies and affiliated clubs.     Announced on 4 December, the purpose of the fund is to help address the economic consequences of the COVID 19 health pandemic which has affected the sports sector.   With the sports sector facing lost income due to COVID-19 lockdown and ongoing restrictions, the fund will help to minimise financial stress and help sustain eligible clubs and organisations.

    Full details, including guidance, eligibility etc can be found on the SportNI webpage.

    The RYANI has contacted clubs in order to gauge expressions of interest from bodies that intend to make an application so we can advise of the process or the administration of this fund.  These should be returned to RYANI by 15th December.  Expression of Interest Form.

    Final Applications will be made to the RYANI within defined deadlines for submission to SportNI.

    Overview of support packages

    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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