With the end of the third lockdown finally in sight, British Canoeing have issued a statement with guidance about how and when you can paddle from the 29th March 2021 so we've put together this easy-to-read summary designed specifically for paddlers and all those keen to get back on the water.
The government's plan to ease lockdown restrictions in England throughout 2021 consists of 4 different stages, but in this article we'll just be focusing on the current stage - 1a and 1b.
Step 1a - 8th March
Step 1a started on the 8th March 2021. The plan laid out rules for both recreational and educational paddling activity for the period leading up to the second stage that begins on the day of publishing, 29th March 2021.
You are allowed to leave home for recreation and outdoor exercise, either alone, with your household or support bubble, or with one person outside of your household.
Paddlesport activities are approved under the principle's of the government's framework guidance and was added to the list at grassroots sport's guidance for safe provision, including team sports, contact combat sports, and organised sports events.
Step 1b - 29th March
Step 1b allows a return to organised and structured sport, with outdoor sport facilities being allowed to reopen and a return to the rule of 6 or two households meeting, meaning that in terms of recreational paddling you can now travel to exercise and to take part in a structured and organised sport.
You are allowed to meet up as two households in a group greater than 6, but only where all members of the group are from the same two households (or support/childcare bubbles, where eligible). Otherwise, you cannot meet up with more than 6 people in any situation at this stage.
Outdoor sport and recreational facilities are allowed to reopen, and people are able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports so get in touch with your local paddle club and see whether they have any plans for reopening.
Travel is now ruled to be okay where necessary in relation to exercise and structured or organised sport, however the advice states that you should try and minimise this as much as possible so make sure to stick to your local clubs and waterways.
You still cannot stay away from home overnight for sport or physical activity and indoor sport and leisure facilities are to remain closed until later on in the lockdown easement plan so don't make any plans to visit the gym just yet!
Structured and organised activity must be formally organised by a qualified personal instructor, coach, NGB, company, charity or club, follow British Canoeing Guidance.
Details about Step 2, 3, and 4 are scheduled to happen no sooner than 12 April, 17 May and 21 June, and you can read all about the plans on the government's website. The details and dates are subject to confirmation by the government so make sure you check the current rules every time you make plans.
More detailed information on what counts as qualified, structured and organised activity, particularly in relation to British Canoeing, can be found on their website, on the Covid-19: Paddling Activity in England page alongside a more in-depth breakdown of the four-step plan in relation to paddling activities.