RYA Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs for Affiliated Clubs, Classes and Recognised Training Centres

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    We are continuing to monitor the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak carefully. As the situation develops, please be reassured that our primary concern is the health of our members, affiliated clubs, classes, recognised training centres (RTCs), instructors and volunteers. Our thoughts are with our entire network during these challenging times.

    The guidance below has been put together to assist clubs, classes and RTCs, and is consistent with advice from the UK government and Public Health England. If you are operating overseas, you should follow advice from the government and public health authorities in that country in addition to the advice laid out below. 

    This guidance was last updated on 04 June 2020.

    Preventative measures

    What is the RYA’s advice for RYA clubs and RTCs within the UK?

    As you will have seen, the latest measures to stop the virus spreading now include: staying at home as much as possible, limiting contact with other people, keeping at least two metres from others and washing your hands regularly. 

    The Government has published guidance for the public on the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation in England.

    People in England are now permitted to leave their homes to exercise and to spend time outdoors for recreation. 

    From Monday 01 June, the Government is allowing groups of up to six people to meet in outdoor spaces, provided those from different households continue strictly to observe social distancing rules by staying two metres apart.  

    People are also permitted to travel for physical activity, but are being advised to use the nearest, local appropriate venue in order to reduce pressure on transport infrastructure. 

    All forms of watersports practiced on open waterways are permitted, including: sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and the use of privately-owned motorised craft (in line with guidance issued by the relevant navigation authority). 

    Sport facilities are now allowed to open and people are allowed to visit venues like a sailing club to exercise. However, indoor facilities such as clubhouses should be kept closed, apart from toilets and throughways.  Outdoor gyms, playgrounds and outdoor swimming pools remain closed.  

    Bars and restaurants, including any food or drink facilities inside a clubhouse must also remain closed until further notice. Take-away services can be offered, but any hot or cold food must be consumed off the premises, outside of the building.  

    Restrictions in the home countries are also beginning to be lifted. For more information please follow the links below: 

    The RYA will continue to review its guidance for all clubs and centres as more detail becomes available.

    Please continue to take action to prevent the potential spread of infection. The latest guidance from the UK Government can be found here

    We understand you may be worried about the welfare of those who are most vulnerable and encourage you to share the RYA guidance around coronavirus, which is consistent with advice provided in the UK Government guidelines.

    The Government is advising everyone to stay alert

    • Stay at home as much as possible
    • Work from home if you can
    • Limit contact with other people
    • Keep your distance if you go out (stay 2 metres (6ft) apart where possible)
    • Wash your hands regularly

    Events, activity and closures

    Based on the Government’s advice and guidance on the developing situation the RYA has suspended all RYA organised events, instructor courses and revalidations until at least 31 May – this date will be regularly reviewed. This also includes Discover Sailing events. Click here for more information on what this means.

    Can I now reopen my premises and resume activities?

    In response to the announcement on 10 May that unlimited outdoor activity will be permitted in England, we have created guidance for English Affiliated Clubs considering a safe plan to restart their boating activity. This guidance includes advice on how your club may be able to facilitate activity whilst minimising the risk of transmitting infection and how to reduce the likelihood of a callout to emergency services through enhanced risk assessment, maintenance and safety.

    In order to keep people safe, we are encouraging you to take your time and use this information to carefully plan and develop your own policies which will best suit your venue. You may wish to ask your members to be patient while you are working through the guidance.

    Guidance for the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland differs and therefore organisations that operate in the UK outside of England should remain closed until they are permitted by their Government to open.

    If your premises has been closed for a period of time, the RYA Legal Team has prepared guidance on the likely impact of the closure of non-essential businesses, which includes advice on cash flow, refunds, insurance and customer engagement – amongst other concerns raised by clubs at this difficult time.

    Legionella Disease 

    If, as is likely to be the case, the water facilities in your premises have remained unused and dormant during the Coronavirus lock-down period this can present potentially ideal conditions for legionella bacteria to thrive. Clubs and RTCs will need to consider this along with any remedial action necessary prior to re-opening facilities. To assist we have produced the following guidance: ‘COVID-19 Clubs and the control of Legionella’s Disease.’

    Can I carry out RYA Training activity?

    Given the diverse nature of the 2,400+ RYA recognised training centres (RTCs) and the varying circumstances across the 58 countries we operate in, ultimately each centre must make its own decisions taking all of the information available into account.  

    RTCs should always ensure they are aware of, and comply with, the latest government guidance in the country in which they are operating, as well as completing their own risk assessments to prevent the potential spread of infection.

    To support RTCs when considering if, when and how RYA Training activity should take place, we have put together the following guidance - COVID-19: Guidance for restarting RYA Training activity.    

    We understand you may be worried about the risks involved and we are here to support you. Should you wish to discuss your situation with us, please contact the training team by emailing training@rya.org.uk or calling +44 (0) 23 8060 4181.

    My club is due to hold its Annual General Meeting next week- can our meeting continue as normal?

    On 26 March 2020, the UK Government’s compulsory measures prohibiting public gatherings of more than two people were passed into law by way of the Coronavirus Act 2020. The current Coronavirus pandemic raises potential governance issues, because face to face meetings should not be taking place at a time when it is obviously so very important for Clubs to be able to carry out essential business without delay. 

    To help your club (whether your Club is a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG), an Unincorporated Association, or a Charitable Organisation) decide on how to convene and hold meetings whilst ensuring compliance with the Coronavirus Act we have put together the following guidance - COVID-19 and Holding Club Meetings

    If you have any further queries or questions relating to forthcoming meetings, then please contact the Legal Team on 023 8060 4223 or email legal@rya.org.uk.  

    Legal, financial and insurance support

    What if a contract I have entered is unlikely to be performed?

    Members of the RYA community are likely to have entered a range of contracts before the COVID-19 pandemic. From charter agreements, RYA courses to contracts for services the effect of the current situation is being felt across the boating community. The position is developing daily, with unprecedented government involvement. The RYA Legal Team has drafted guidance intended to provide a helpful starting point, but you may also need to seek independent legal advice.

    Will financial support be available for my organisation in the UK?

    Home Country Sports Councils in the UK understand how challenging and unprecedented this period may be, especially where events and fixtures are being postponed or cancelled. They are not however currently in a position to offer financial support to organisations affected. They are working to explore options should they be needed and will communicate further once those have been more fully discussed.

    The Budget 2020 has announced a plan to provide support for UK public services, individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19. This guidance gives further detail on the measures announced by the Chancellor including additional funding and Statutory Sick Pay changes, and an increase in the Business Rates retail discount for one year.

    Sport England has announced a £195 million package to help the community sport and physical activity sector in England cope with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Community Emergency Fund could be especially useful for clubs and Sailability groups who have recently closed their doors during the Coronavirus outbreak and who have ongoing financial obligations which they are struggling to meet. 

    Bounce Back Loans

    The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 27 April that the Government will be launching a new loan scheme, Bounce Back Loans, which will be offered to small and medium sized businesses from 4 May. Details of the scheme are as follows:

    • Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000
    • The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.
    • No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. 

    Top-up Grant Scheme

    On 02 May the Government announced that a new discretionary grant had been set up for small businesses that may have been outside of the scope for previous financial schemes. For a business to be eligible it must meet the following criteria:

    • Have 50 or less employees
    • Based in England
    • Demonstrate a significant drop in income due to Coronavirus restrictions

    The payments will be split across three levels:

    • Max. of £25,000
    • Up to £10,000
    • Below £10,000 

    The Government is expected to share further details about the grant scheme, such as the amount allocated for each local authority, and how businesses may apply for the grant shortly.

    For a full break down of the range of financial support packages available to businesses in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, then please click here. 

    Businesses overseas should contact the relevant local government authorities to explore the possibility of financial support.

    What financial support is available for the self-employed?

    The RYA is acutely aware of the hardship that the situation is presenting to those in the RYA network who work on a self-employed basis and has been working with other Sport National Governing Bodies and the Sport & Recreation Alliance to lobby Government.

    The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 26 March a UK-wide scheme to financially support self-employed individuals affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Details of the package are as follows:

    • A grant of up to £2,500 per month for the next 3 months calculated on 80% of average monthly trading profits over the last 3 years
    • The scheme is open to those with trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018/19 or an average trading profit of less than £50K in 16/17, 17/18 and 18/19. Half of the income in these periods must come from self-employment.
    • The grant will be paid direct to banks in one lump sum covering the 3 month period at the beginning of June.

    You do not need to take any action at this stage, HMRC will identify eligible tax payers and contact them directly with guidance about how to apply using an online form. 

    Anyone who did not submit an 18/19 tax return by 31 January this year will be given a four week window to submit via the HMRC website self-assessment page

    Unfortunately the package does not extend to individuals who have only recently become self-employed i.e. not able to file a tax return for 2018/2019. If you find yourself in that position, we would like to hear from you in order that we may assess the extent of the shortfall with a view to lobby Government.

    As of 29 May 2020, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has now been extended. A second and final grant will be available when the scheme opens again in August 2020. If you’re eligible and want to claim the first grant you must make your claim on or before 13 July 2020. We will continue to update this guidance with further detail as it emerges.  

    What support is available for charities?

    The Chancellor has announced an extra £750 million funding for frontline charities, as part of the Coronavirus support. The package of funding is to ensure frontline charities can continue their vital work during the outbreak. Maritime charities have a huge impact – keeping people active, improving well-being, connecting people socially and helping people learn new skills – but not many will be providing frontline services during this time. Charities may benefit from the support already announced either by Government or by Sport England, which is outlined in these FAQs.

    Gift Aid 

    If your club is a registered charity or registered with HMRC as a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) and you have reduced or even suspended subscription fees during the period of lockdown under the current crisis, there may be an opportunity to claim Gift Aid on any payment by a member which exceeds the reduced subscription e.g. if their existing monthly standing orders continue, if it is invited/treated as a donation.  Where subs have been suspended altogether clubs could consider inviting members to make donations which could qualify for Gift Aid.  

    Word of Warning - Gift Aid is not available on payments for services a club provides e.g. boat storage/mooring fees.  

    If you have events that have been cancelled e.g. an annual fund raising dinner as a result of the crisis for which you have already taken payment, rather than refund the entry fees, you could consider asking participants if they are willing to treat the fee as a donation and, if so, claim Gift Aid on that donation.  HMRC’s Guidance on this can be accessed here and whilst it refers to charities and not specifically to CASCs, we are advised that the CASC Unit in Bootle has confirmed that the concessionary treatment should apply equally to sports events organised by a charity or CASC.

    It will be extremely important to ensure you have appropriate documentation providing an audit trail, ensuring your members/participants complete a Gift Aid Declaration. 

    Who does the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme apply to?

    The RYA Legal Team has drafted detailed guidance on Furlough Leave, which has been temporarily introduced by the Government during the Coronavirus pandemic to mean leave can be offered which keeps employees on the payroll without them working. If you have any queries, questions or comments relating to Furlough Leave, kindly contact the Legal Team on 023 8060 4223 or email legal@rya.org.uk

    How do I find out what financial support is available for me or my organisation? 

    The UK Government has announced a new 'support finder' tool to help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the Coronavirus Pandemic.  The simple online questionnaire takes under a minute to complete and will signpost business owners and the self-employed to relevant Government financial information -  find out more.   

    How do we guard against the risks of trading whilst insolvent?

    Clubs that have incorporated status e.g. companies limited by guarantee, must guard against the risks of trading whilst insolvent. In light of COVID-19 and the immediate cessation of operations, requests for refunds from members and continuing overheads, it may be easy for incorporated clubs to stray into wrongful trading territory.

    The Government is aware that, in providing various financial packages to help organisations through the crisis, it may be encouraging incorporated organisations to effectively contravene wrongful trading provisions and will therefore be suspending the rules on wrongful trading. The RYA Legal Team has produced detailed guidance to help incorporated clubs understand their legal obligations and what the temporary suspension of the wrongful trading provisions may mean for them both now and when the suspension comes to an end.

    What will happen if due to a reduction in income my business is unable to cover the rent of our building?

    Under the Coronavirus Act 2020 S.82/83 business tenancies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will benefit from a protection from forfeiture/re-entry as a result of non-payment of rent during the crisis. These provisions are in place until 30 June 2020, but could be extended by the Government. This means that if you are unable to pay the rent during the next 3-month period, your organisation will still be able to occupy the building and the landlord will not be permitted to take re-entry/forfeiture action during this time. As a commercial tenant you will still be liable for the rent and a payment plan should be agreed with your landlord. For more detailed guidance from the RYA Legal Team, please click here

    Can we access support for emergency budget planning?

    In these unforeseen and unprecedented circumstances, the RYA is offering guidance and advice to Affiliated Clubs and Recognised Training Centres to assist with emergency financial planning. The financial planning club guidance includes advice on reviewing income and expenditure, how to utilise savings, plus ideas to help generate revenue. Clubs and training centres can also access a COVID-19 Financial Toolkit which has been created to support those working on emergency planning and budgeting processes.

    Will our insurance cover consequential losses?

    You may be covered against consequential losses in relation to Covid-19. Clubs and RTCs should check their policies and speak to their insurance provider. 

    For Clubs/RTCs insured under the Gallagher RYA Combined Policy the following applies:

    • Cover only applies in respect of those clients who insure against Section 2 (Business Interruption) and cover Option A – Loss of Revenue (note that this is an optional cover section).
    • The policy provides an extension under Section 2 – Business Interruption in respect of Disease, Infestation and Defective Sanitation.
    • Insurers have taken the view that cover will only be provided under this section of the policy as a result of someone at a club or RTC having COVID-19 which results in the club/RTC having to close the premises on the direct order of the competent local authority. Insurers have stated that it is not the intention of the policy to provide cover for losses as a result of an order from local authority where there has not been an outbreak at the premises and where the request is precautionary.
    • Cover is provided to a maximum of 5% of the Loss of Revenue sum (Option A) insured or £25,000 - whichever is the lesser.

    Insurers will handle each and every claim (where required) on a case by case basis – taking into account specific circumstances, it is therefore imperative you speak with your insurance provider.

    We would encourage RYA affiliates to submit claims (assuming they have the relevant cover), and if insurers refuse to accept the claims, to escalate the claims through the insurers’ complaints procedure and potentially ultimately to the Insurance Ombudsman.

    The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has provided guidance on business interruption insurance, which covers a business for loss of income during periods when they cannot carry out ‘business as usual’ due to damage caused by a specific set of perils specified in the policy.

    Should we review our Gallagher insurance programme?

    During these unprecedented times, Gallagher recommends that existing clients fully consider their insurance programme in detail, given the ongoing COVID-19 ‘Lockdown’, and has recommended ways in which policyholders can ease the burden of Insurance for affiliated clubs and recognised training centres. For more information on RYA Combined Insurance, please contact the dedicated RYA team at Gallagher on 0800 062 2309 or by email via rya@ajg.com.

    RYA Instructor and commercial credentials

    Are RYA instructor courses and revalidations still running?

    All RYA- organised instructor courses and revalidations that were scheduled to run between 19 March and 30 June 2020 have been postponed. These courses will be rescheduled to take place at a later date in 2020 once we have a clearer picture of the timeframe involved with the current coronavirus situation. 

    We will continue to review the situation with regards courses scheduled for later this year and will issue specific guidance as necessary to those who are due to attend.

    My RYA Instructor qualifications have expired, what should I do?

    We have implemented a range of temporary extensions and adjustments to help RYA Instructors retain their credentials at this time.  Please consult the 'How to revalidate' page on the Training Support Site for further details. 

    My commercial endorsement has expired, can I still work?

    The MCA has approved a temporary extension for all RYA certificates with commercial endorsements which expire during the period affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. RYA certificates that expired from 01 March 2020 onwards, will be accepted as valid up to and including the 30 September 2020. For further details and information about commercial endorsement extensions where RYA First Aid certificates or medical fitness certificates have expired, please click here.

    RYA Training Courses

    Due to the provision of RYA training all over the world, we recognise that whilst some centres will have temporarily closed in line with guidance from their local governments, centres in areas less affected by the pandemic, or coming out of lockdown restrictions may be operational.

    If it is safe and appropriate for your centre’s training activities to continue, please consult the COVID-19: Guidance for restarting RYA Training activity for details of temporary variations to the RYA conditions of recognition and additional considerations including: 

    • Scheme-specific guidance
    • Centre inspections
    • RYA qualifications
    • First Aid cover 
    • Digital 'ePack' course materials 

    Can Marine Radio Short Range Certificate (SRC) exams be conducted remotely?

    Although the RYA Marine Radio Short Range Certificate course can be taken online, the exam must be conducted face-to-face only when it is safe and appropriate to do so. To give candidates longer to complete the assessment, we have extended the validity of all SRC exam application forms purchased since 01 October 2019 until the end of September 2020. There is no need to request an extension for this time period. We will continue to monitor the situation and update this advice as necessary.


    Inspections and coding

    Are RYA inspections still going ahead and will this affect my recognition status?

    Inspections in some locations have now recommenced and we will continue with the annual inspection programme in other locations at a time it is safe, advisable and Government restrictions allow us to do so. Please be reassured that lack of inspection due to COVID-19 will not affect your RYA Training Centre status. For further details, please consult the COVID-19: Guidance for restarting RYA Training activity.

    How do I maintain my coding certification during the Coronavirus Pandemic?

    We appreciate you may be concerned about the mechanics of maintaining the coding of your vessel at this time. We have put together some additional guidance for owners, Managing Agents, Inspectors and Surveyors detailing how we will administer the requirements set out by the MCA for this period. To view the FAQs, please click here.

    Overseas travel

    Should I travel overseas?

    As countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Any country or area may restrict travel without notice. If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return now, while there are still commercial routes available. Many airlines are suspending flights and many airports are closing, preventing flights from leaving.

    You can get advice about travelling abroad, including the latest information on Coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

    Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to travel is entirely yours and should be made taking into account the relevant local government advice and your personal circumstances. 

    What about arriving in the UK by boat or boating overseas?

    For information about arriving in the UK by boat and guidance on boating overseas, please click here. The RYA Cruising Team is also on hand to address any concerns relating to boating overseas and any subsequent return to the UK and can be reached on +44 (0) 23 8060 4233 or email cruising@rya.org.uk.

    Additional information

    • Number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and risk in the UK – GOV.UK
    • Coronavirus (COVID-19) Overview – NHS.UK