Coronavirus: CRT has no plans to restrict boat movements but self-isolating boaters can overstay

CRT confirmed last week that it has no plans to restrict boat movements due to the Covid-19 pandemic but that it will update its advice as and when necessary. A CRT staff member said that the waterways were a relatively low-risk environment as there were very few large gatherings. However, if boaters need to self-isolate and stay longer than 14 days in any one place, CRT confirmed that this would be reasonable in the circumstances.

Friends, Families and Travellers has produced guidance for boaters and other travelling communities on Covid-19, see

Julian House Gypsy, Traveller, Boater and Roma Community Support Service is working on an action plan within BaNES and Wiltshire to ensure that everyone on the canal is safe and cared for. You can contact them if you are self-isolating or are concerned about anyone else. Phone or text Alice on 07960 097719 or Emily on 07946 200271 or contact via

Although aimed at the settled community, Wiltshire Council has produced a useful Community Pack about Coronavirus which has some ideas for mutual help within the community that can be adapted to suit boaters. See

Latest Government advice from 16th March 2020 is that everyone should minimise social contact and avoid any large or small gatherings; that people who have a new continuous cough or a high temperature should self-isolate for 14 days; that if one family member falls ill the whole family should self-isolate; and that from this weekend 20th March 2020 people aged 70 and over, pregnant women and those with other health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease or those on medication to suppress their immune system should self-isolate for 12 weeks at least.

The NHS online advice about Covid-19 is here and the NHS advises people who are self-isolating, mildly or moderately ill NOT to call 111 unless they have no internet access. Also to protect yourself and others, do NOT go to a GP, pharmacy or hospital. NHS advice about self-isolating is here

If you have symptoms that you cannot cope with, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, that is the time to call NHS 111 or if it’s an emergency call 999 and ask for an ambulance.

Section 17 (3)(c) (ii) of the British Waterways Act 1995 entitles boaters without a home mooring to stay longer than 14 days in any one place if it is reasonable in the circumstances. Boaters do not need permission from CRT in order to do this, despite the fact that CRT frequently refers to “approved overstays” and wrongly implies that its permission is needed to stay longer. We would suggest that boaters inform CRT of their location and why they are overstaying.

CRT has stated that if boaters who are self isolating or moderately ill with Covid-19 have no support network of their own, its local Boat Licence Support staff may be able to offer help to get shopping, fill up with water or empty toilets. See or call CRT on 0303 040 4040. Boaters may also be able to get help from the Waterways Chaplaincy, see

CRT has stated that it has contingency plans for staffing including its call centres and licensing department, and has published some Frequently Asked Questions about Coronavirus here

CRT’s statement about boating and Covid-19 is here

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