STAGING Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - 13 May - British Rowing

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update – 13 May

Following additional clarification from the UK Government on the use of shared facilities and equipment, British Rowing has updated its guidance regarding our affiliated clubs.


Given further clarification of the UK Government’s advice, we advise that Affiliated Clubs may, if they wish/are able to, allow members to use club/shared boats (in addition to private boats) from their facilities subject to:

  • having a club plan in place to support safe access to and use of equipment (e.g. boats/blades). This must follow all relevant Government guidance including hygiene and social distancing; and,
  • continuing to follow all relevant UK Government and/or waterway authority restrictions.

British Rowing is pleased that restrictions are starting to be lifted to allow people back on the water but we believe all rowers and clubs must act in both the spirit and to the letter of the Government guidance to protect the health of the rowing community, other rivers users and the wider public.


It’s important to remember that this is not at all a return to normal operations or club activities – only the absolute minimum necessary areas of clubs should be opened and only to facilitate access to boats and equipment. At this stage, we advise that gyms, bars and other facilities remain closed with no organised club activities or gatherings. Clubs will need to put in place plans to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus through the use of any areas of the club or shared equipment. Every club will have slightly different considerations, however, we have listed below some suggested areas to think about.

British Rowing has been working on further guidance on the wider impacts of coronavirus on clubs. This will be published as more information becomes available from the UK Government and other sources.

Please note that this advice relates to rowing in England. We continue to work closely with our colleagues from Scottish and Welsh Rowing to share good practice, however, the restrictions on the public now vary between England, Scotland and Wales. Latest advice for Scotland and Wales are available at the links below:

We appreciate that many of you will be eager to get back on the water but we would ask you to be patient with your club and provide time for them to put in place the right measures to keep you and the rest of your club safe as well as your local community. Please bear in mind that planning and implementing these measures for safe access to the club may take time and your club’s volunteers may have other priorities. Please wait for your club to let you know the specific arrangements they have in place.

Considerations for clubs

There are a number of areas that clubs may want to consider when developing their plans for allowing access to their facilities. The UK Government has published ‘Guidance for the public on the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation‘.

The UK Government has also published guidance for making many different types of business ‘COVID-19 Secure’. Whilst sports clubs are not one of these categories, advice from different categories may be relevant to different clubs.

All activity at the club needs to fall within the club’s safety plan and British Rowing’s RowSafe guidance. Our previously published safety alert ‘Is it safe to go afloat alone?’ may also be of assistance in carrying out your risk assessment.

Some clubs may also need to coordinate with other clubs operating from the same premises and/or facility owners to agree protocols.

Which areas of the club to open?

We advise that, at this stage, a club only opens the minimum level of facilities to allow access to boats and equipment in a safe manner. Gyms, changing rooms and social spaces should remain closed.

Clubs may wish to open toilets and, where open, soap be provided and water must be switched on and checked to be safe.

At a later stage, we will provide more complete guidance on how to deep clean the wider areas of the clubhouse, however, we advise clubs to consider cleaning the areas that you are opening before members come in.

Access to the water

Ensure that your local waterway authority does not have restrictions on access to the water for recreational activity. At the time of writing, the three major waterway authorities (Environment Agency, Canal & River Trust and Port of London Authority) have all lifted their restrictions.

Boats and equipment

Keep the use of shared equipment to a minimum to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. Ideally, place any unnecessary equipment in storage.

You may also want to assess whether your process for reporting damage to equipment works in the current environment.

Maintaining hygiene

Please consider:

  • encouraging members to follow good hand hygiene practices at all times;
  • placing hand sanitiser at entrances/exits and common contact touch points (e.g. padlocks, door handles);
  • appropriate protocols and products for cleaning any shared equipment before and after usage; and,
  • putting in place a regular cleaning plan, particularly for any common touch points (door handles, locks etc.).

Managing access to the club

Whilst access to the club will be limited, it is still important to put in place plans to help people to follow social distancing guidance.  You may want to consider:

  • limiting the number of people allowed into particular areas at one time;
  • limiting the number of people accessing the boathouse by implementing a timetable or online booking system;
  • managing access to shared equipment by implementing a online booking system;
  • putting a one-way system in place; and,
  • checking members have the appropriate keys and locks to access the required facilities.

Remember, everyone must follow the Government’s social distancing rules: rowing is only allowed alone, or with others from the same household.

Please ensure that the club’s usual safety plans in relation to crew competence etc. are followed. An electronic booking in/booking out system could be implemented to replace any usual paper systems.

Is coaching permitted?

At this stage, we do not recommend organised coaching sessions, however, it may be possible to organise 1:1 coaching in certain circumstances. Ultimately, we advise clubs to err on the side of caution and follow both the spirit and letter of any Government guidance.


Once a plan is pulled together, it is really important that it is clearly communicated to all members, including from the time members are able to start accessing equipment/facilities. Make sure you communicate any changes to procedures that may come at a later date.

Keeping the club secure

Don’t forget to ensure that all members accessing the club’s facilities know what they need to do to secure the club when leaving.