The Environmental Agency has announced that leisure power cruising can start on the River Thames from 1 June at the latest in line with Covid-19 government guidelines.
In a statement they said,
“We have teams out along our waterways making preparations safely and swiftly. Our priority is health and safety of our customers and staff and because of the nature of the rivers and our structures this work is ongoing.
We are working hard to make sure powered boats can start leisure cruising on our waterways from 1 June at the latest. In order to be ready for this we have reassured boaters they can now visit their moored boats (subject to approval of your marina operator or boat club) to check them, carry out maintenance and ensure they are ready for use.
Our preparations involve carrying out a thorough (reach-by-reach) inspection of the channels, mark hazards, check the operational condition of our assets and issue safety advice to protect river users. We know there are some hazards out there such as sunken boats, shoals and fallen trees and our teams will be identifying and clearing these to make the waterways safe. We ask all boaters currently making essential journeys to be extra vigilant of unmarked hazards.
We will complete all inspections within 2 weeks, revise our guidance and get powered boats moving again no later than 1 June. Hazard markings, signage and safety advice will be in place by then. Where we identify hazards, we may have to continue to minimise movement on those reaches until we can complete the urgent maintenance work and local notices will be issued.
From the 1 June, our normal time restrictions for our short stay moorings will be in place again. This means people currently moored on our short stay moorings will need to resume continuous cruising or return to their permanent mooring. If you are experiencing difficulty moving because you are isolating or shielding, please get in touch with your local waterways team.
You may also have received notification today that the Boat Safety Scheme Examination suspension has now been lifted, with a framework designed to prevent transmission of the virus by the use of social distancing between the boat owner and examiner. New guidance has now been prepared for boat owners to help them prepare for examinations. This can be found at www.boatsafetyscheme.org/COVID.