COVID-19: RYA training in the UK

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    This page was last updated on 26 March 2021.

     The RYA is committed to our fundamental principles of supporting the boating community to be considerate and conservative during the coronavirus pandemic. 

    Coronavirus Regulations

    The regulations enable the Government and devolved administrations to respond to the serious and imminent threat to public health which is posed by the incidence and spread of the coronavirus.

    While guidance sets out how Governments expect people should behave, the regulations set out how people must behave and it is the regulations (rather than the guidance) that may be enforced within the law.

    The regulations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland continue to differ, but are still aimed at controlling the virus. RTCs should make sure they are familiar with both the regulations and guidance in their location. 

    Home Countries

    The COVID-19 restrictions continue to differ for each of the Home Countries. For further details, please follow the links below: 


    Northern Ireland:


    Current guidance for England

    The Government is asking everybody to observe the following key behaviours:

    • HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.
    • FACE - Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
    • SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).

    On 22 February the Government published its roadmap setting out the principles for easing the current lockdown in England based on data not dates. The indicative, ‘no earlier than’ dates are contingent on the data and subject to change. The roadmap is based on 4 steps, there will be at least 5 weeks between each step.

    The RYA is continuing to review the latest legislation and Government guidance and has prepared a set of FAQs based on what we believe the guidance means for recreational boating in England.

    What do the restrictions mean for RYA Training activity in England?

    Based on information we have received from Government we are believe that RYA practical training for leisure purposes may recommence at centres in England from Monday 29 March. This will be restricted to outdoor training only unless the training is for work or vocational purposes, in which case it is already permitted under current restrictions.

    We have received confirmation that all forms of boating are classified as sport, and training in these boating activities is also classified as organised sport. This includes instructor training. Organised sport is defined as activity “organised by a qualified instructor, club, national governing body, company or charity and following sport-specific guidance where appropriate”.

    The limits on the number of people able to gather socially do not apply to organised sport, provided appropriate mitigations are risk assessed, documented, and implemented. 

    When relying on these mitigations, the following RYA guidance must be considered:

    Social distancing requirements remain in place which may require a reduction in the number of participants in order to comply.  When delivering practical training to novices, their lack of experience must be considered, which may lead to measures beyond the guidance above being put in place.

    We would encourage centres to continue to put in place appropriate measures to mitigate against the spread of coronavirus and to remind all staff, volunteers, and students of their importance.

    Overnight stays and indoor facilities

    From 29 March the only indoor facilities that may be used are toilet facilities. Indoor facilities include below decks and fully enclosed wheelhouses.

    Overnight stays away from your home will still be prohibited and travel should be minimised wherever possible, but travel for exercise and taking part in informal and organised sport is not restricted.

    Classroom use will remain restricted from the 29 March, so the use of either suitable outdoor teaching or briefing areas, and/or online virtual learning should be considered for theoretical parts of a course.

    At present it appears classroom use, and overnight stays onboard will form part of step 3 of the Government’s COVID-19 roadmap, which is no earlier than 17 May. We hope to gain further clarity in the coming weeks.

    Vocational and work-based training

    The current legislation indicates that training and / or assessment being undertaken for work purposes or leading to a formal qualification that can be used for employment may continue, assuming of course the usual risk assessments are undertaken, and mitigating actions taken to minimise risk of infection.

    Instructor training, including any compulsory qualification for the instructor award, such as first aid, is permitted as vocational training. This means that following a suitable risk assessment to identify safe numbers and the related measure required to comply with social distancing, training may take place indoors and outdoors.

    Ongoing updates 

    Please also continue to monitor the relevant Government guidance as well as this page and the ‘further information’ pages listed below for the latest guidance and information as it becomes available. Government guidance on contract cancellations and refunds due to Coronavirus can be found here.

    Frequently asked questions

    Can we restart the delivery of practical RYA Training?

    RYA practical training for all disciplines may take place for all centres in England from 29th March, but is restricted to outdoors only, unless the training is for work or vocational purposes, in which case it is already permitted.  Vocational purposes include instructor training whether for volunteer or paid work.

    Can shore based courses take place?

    At present classroom training may only take place under the vocational work purpose exception in the regulations. Essential courses that support work purposes, including instructor training, can take place e.g. First Aid or Powerboat level 2. As indoor leisure facilities are not permitted to open at present it is unlikely Sea Survival courses can be run at present. This status is unlikely to change before step 3 of the government roadmap.

    Can we restart the delivery of instructor courses?

    Yes, practical instructor training may be delivered from 29th March. Instructor training falls within the scope of vocational training and therefore instructor training may use indoor classrooms, with appropriate risk assessments and mitigations in place. For further details on modifications for specific instructor courses please see the organising instructor courses page. 

    Changing rooms, should not be used at this time apart from by persons with a disability or in the case of an emergency. If the changing facilities are being used in either of these circumstances, you should inform users that these are areas of increased risk and they should minimise time spent inside. Toilet facilities can be accessed.

    Can we have students from mixed households in the same boat?

    Yes, it is possible under the ‘RYA Guidance on Sailing and Racing with Participants from Different Households during Covid-19 in England’ for activity organised at an RTC and following RYA and government guidance. We do not believe students of L1 or L2 courses in the dinghy sailing scheme have sufficient ability to maintain social distancing and therefore would only recommend mixed crews on courses at Level 3 or above, or the advanced modules in the YSS. It is worth considering that many people will be reluctant to sail in such close proximity with others outside of their household.

    There is a normally a requirement for RYA Training Centres to have access to changing rooms – whilst we are not able to use these has this been relaxed from the Guidance Notes?

    We must respect and comply with the guidance around the use of changing rooms. Therefore, changing rooms, should not be used apart from by persons with a disability or in the case of an emergency. If the changing facilities are being used in either of these circumstances, you should inform users that these are areas of increased risk and they should minimise time spent inside. The access to changing rooms and warm shower facilities for emergencies, such as a hypothermic student, is essential for those disciplines that require this as part of RYA recognition. Toilet facilities can be accessed.

    When can RYA Training centres inspections resume?

    Inspections will start to be organised from 1 April, and centre inspectors will begin contacting their allocated centres. Where a centre is operational a physical inspection should take place. Where it is not possible for a physical inspection to take place then a virtual inspection remains an option.

    Can family or friends stay on site to watch the practical training?

    No, this should not happen. Spectators are not permitted and importantly, any gathering outside of the organised activity itself, such as briefings or lunch breaks, will be restricted to the gathering limits of 2 households or 6 people. Parents, guardians, or carers may be present in a supporting role such as safeguarding or assisting with changing or rigging, but must not stay beyond the time they are carrying out such a role.


    Further information

    In addition to the information above, centres should ensure they are familiar with the temporary adjustments to the RYA Conditions of Recognition and the General and scheme-specific considerations for running RYA training activity

    Government guidance

    The UK Government has issued the following guidance on the phased return of sport and recreation, and working safely during coronavirus: 

    RYA Guidance

    If you have any questions, or want to discuss any of the guidance in further detail, please contact the RYA Training team by emailing or calling +44 (0) 23 8060 4181.