COVID-19 (coronavirus): using a boat inland and on the coast

Guidance on inland and coastal boating and protecting yourself and others from coronavirus.

This guidance was withdrawn on

Read the coronavirus guidance for the latest information.

Applies to England

You should follow the COVID-19 guidance if you own or operate a boat in England and use it for:

  • leisure
  • recreation
  • sport
  • pleasure
  • commercial uses
  • retail

You should follow the different rules if you’re in:

You must not stay overnight on any boat, unless it’s your primary residence.

If you live by yourself or are a single parent with dependent children, you can expand your support network so that it includes one other household of any size from 13 June.

This is called making a support bubble and you’re able to:

  • meet indoors or out,
  • be less than 2 metres apart
  • stay overnight as you could if they were members of your own household.

You should only use a leisure, recreation, sport or pleasure boat with people from the same or one other household unit or those in your support bubble.

Read the guidance on meeting people outside your household.

Privately owned leisure boats

You may use your privately owned boat (both powered and non-powered) for non-essential travel on waterways.

You should:

  • follow relevant navigation authority guidance
  • meet all licensing requirements

Navigation authorities may not allow leisure travel on their waterways until their teams have carried out safety inspections and maintenance.


Marinas may open to allow people to visit and move their boats. Marinas should have measures in place to ensure social distancing.

You’re allowed to visit venues like a marina for exercise. You should only do so in the following ways:

  • alone
  • with members of your household
  • with 6 people from different households (including yourself) as long as you can remain 2 metres - from 4 July, or one metre with risk mitigation (where 2 metres is not viable) away from them and stay outside

You should check ahead to ensure that these facilities are open and prepared to receive visitors. You should not gather indoors with anyone from outside your household.

Canoe and other paddle craft hire

Facility managers can decide whether or not they hire out equipment, including canoes and other paddle craft. Operators should:

Self-drive day boat hire and bareboat charters

You can hire self-drive boats or charter a bareboat for the day only. You should only hire or charter a boat with people from your own household or support bubble.

Operators should:

  • apply appropriate social distancing measures, including during boat hand over
  • clean boats between users
  • set up and follow cleaning and waste removal routines after each hire for all handrails, indoor surfaces, and toilets or bathrooms

## Skippered day-boat hire and skippered day charter hire

Operators should not allow skippered day boat hire or skippered day charter boat hire.

Holiday boat hire (self-drive and skippered)

Operators must not allow hire or charter holiday boats with overnight stays.

Tourist boats and trip boats

Tourist and trip boat operators must remain closed. Tourist and trip boats will re-open when restrictions on ticketed leisure activities are lifted.

Hotel boats

Hotel boats must remain closed.

When restrictions on overnight stays are lifted, businesses should refer to government guidance on hotels and other accommodation.

Hospitality boats

Cafes, restaurants and bars on boats must remain closed, other than for take-away. For updates on hospitality, operators should read the government guidance on hospitality settings.

Passenger ferries

Avoid using public transport, and aim to walk, cycle, or drive instead. If using public transport is necessary, wearing a face covering is mandatory, unless you are exempt for health, disability or other reasons. Read the guidance on safer travel guidance for passengers.

Waterways repair and maintenance businesses

Waterways repair and maintenance businesses can be open.

Operators should:

Operators should use this risk assessment to identify any further improvements that might be needed

Waterways non-essential retail businesses

Waterways non-essential retail businesses can reopen from 15 June.

Operators should:

Operators should use this risk assessment to identify any further improvements that might be needed.

Published 11 June 2020