Marine industry in England: On target to ease restrictions

Boris Johnson’s announcement on 22 February outlined the next steps towards easing restrictions across England. Following this update, British Marine met with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to clarify guidance for the leisure marine industry. Representatives from the following departments also attended the meeting:

  • Department for Transport
  • Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Navigation authorities
  • Other user groups from across the sector

Below is a government approved statement which declares how British Marine members should interpret the guidance. The British Marine reopening matrix also includes a useful time frame.


“On 22 February, the Prime Minister announced the Government’s roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions in England. The design of the roadmap has been informed by the latest scientific evidence and seeks a balance between our key social and economic priorities, whilst preserving the health and safety of the country. The scientific evidence shows that opening too early or too quickly risks a further lockdown.

The approach focuses on data, not dates. Each step has a “no earlier than” date, 5 weeks later than the previous step, to allow time to assess the impact of the previous step and provide a week’s notice before changes occur. The steps for easing restrictions will be taken at the same time across England in a national approach, in the absence of a significant regional disparity.

At each step the Government will make an assessment against the following four tests:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
  • Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

From 29 March, as part of the first step, Stay at Home restrictions will be lifted. The Government will continue to advise that people minimise travel up to and including Step 3. This means avoiding making unnecessary journeys, combining trips and avoiding travel at peak times where possible. People should avoid travelling further than is reasonably necessary to take part in their activity – for instance visiting shops or making use of services closer to home.

All references to permitted activities below assume that boats allow for social distancing rules to be adhered to. COVID-Secure guidance will also remain in place up to and including Step 3 (subject to a proposed review of social distancing rules ahead of Step 4).

Premises must not cater for groups larger than the legal limits at each step unless meeting the conditions for a permitted organised gathering. These will be reintroduced at Step 2 for outdoor gatherings and Step 3 for indoor gatherings. These gatherings or events must be operated by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation and can be organised subject to specific conditions: that they comply with COVID-Secure guidance including taking reasonable steps to limit the risk of transmission, complete a related risk assessment; and ensure that those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits (unless another exemption exists, such as for organised sport or exercise, supervised activities for children or a significant life event)”

In summary, we are delighted to see that from 08 March, all forms of water sports, including the use of privately-owned craft and self-drive hire boats for single households can go ahead in England. Marinas can also open for recreational purposes and boat brokerages can open from 12 April.

The guidance for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be found on the links below below:

Useful resources: