COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Broads.

Please also see our main Coronavirus information page for more information, our liveaboard information page and remember to get in touch if you have any further questions.

(Page last updated 15 October)

1. Accessing the Broads

1.1 Can I visit the Broads if I live in a tier 2 or tier 3 local lockdown area?

In October 2020 the UK Government introduced three local lockdown tiers - medium (tier 1), high (tier 2) and very high (tier 3) - with different restrictions applied to those who live in different area. All local authority areas in Norfolk and Suffolk are currently designated as tier 1 - medium risk.

Visitors from tier 3 (very high risk) areas

The Government has advised residents who live in tier 3 areas that they should not be travelling in or out of their local area, including for holidays. This means that those from tier 3 areas should not be visiting the Broads at this moment in time. If you have made a booking for a holiday please contact the provider directly for assistance.

Visitors from tier 2 (high risk) areas

There are no restrictions in place stopping those who live in tier 2 areas from visiting other areas, meaning you‌ ‌can‌ ‌still‌ ‌go‌ ‌on‌ ‌holiday‌ ‌outside‌ ‌of‌ ‌high‌ ‌alert‌ ‌level‌ ‌areas, ‌but‌ ‌‌‌only‌ ‌with‌ ‌people‌ ‌in‌ ‌your‌ ‌household‌ ‌or‌ ‌support‌ ‌bubble.‌ Even though holidays and visits are permitted, please ensure you maintain social distancing, wear face masks when required and follow other restrictions such as the rule of six at all times.

More information

For more information please visit the links below:

1.2 How does the Government's 'rule of six' affect my visit?

New rules apply that mean it will be against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than 6 (unless you are meeting as a household or support bubble).

The police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (in the form of a fixed penalty notice) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.

There will be exceptions where groups can be larger than 6 people, including where everyone lives together or is in the same support bubble, or to continue existing arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents.

The laws will apply to the boat hire and boating holiday industry in the same manner as other self-contained breaks. Only families or support bubbles will be permitted to gather together on vessels in groups larger than six, including on day boats, trip boats and holiday cruisers.

Trip boats are still permitted to operate in a COVID secure manner, although providers should not accept bookings for groups of more than six people unless they are from the same household/support bubble.

If you are a private boat owner who is planning to visit the area please ensure you follow the Government's new rules or you could face police fines.

If you are hiring a boat or other accommodation and believe your holiday will be affected by the new rules please contact your booking provider directly to make alternative arrangements or to seek a refund/credit note. Failure to comply with the new laws during your break may lead to police fines.

Please note that this new information may be subject to change as we learn more from the Government. The Authority will update our web pages as soon as possible if this is the case.

See current social distancing guidelines from the Government.

1.3 Can I stay on a privately owned or hire boat overnight?

From 4 July boat owners and hirers are permitted to stay overnight on vessels. This is as long as Government safety guidance on social distancing, increased hygiene measures and any local instructions provided by the Broads Authority are followed.

This includes privately owned craft, and also 'self-contained' holidays on hired vessels. The guidance from the Government continues to encourage individuals to stay two metres apart from others, however where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, guidance will allow people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’ (this means staying one metre apart, plus mitigations which reduce the risk of transmission).

Stern-on mooring is permitted again in areas where it was temporarily restricted, however please continue to follow social distancing guidelines when using moorings and shared facilities. For more information on Broads Authority facilities, please see Answer 3.2 below.

You can find more information on the Government's updated 'what you can and can't do' webpage.

1.4 Can I visit my private motor boat to go leisure boating, or undertake maintenance tasks?

Yes you can, providing you follow social distancing guidelines.

Please consider the following points before your visit:

  • Plan ahead – to ensure the safety of those around you and try to avoid areas that may attract lots of people.
  • Check with any facilities that you wish to use before you travel. Be aware that many businesses that support boating may not yet be able to open and this could affect marinas where your boat is normally moored and services such as fuel and pump out stations.
  • Only use your boat if you can apply social distancing at all times, including when mooring your vessel to leave a safe distance from others.
  • Travel with members of your household only, if no one in the group is displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
  • You may only meet with people that are not within your household if you apply social distancing. You should not meet with more than one person outside your household
  • Be aware of the impact on emergency services if you were to get into difficulties. Think about what action you will take if your boat breaks down – recovery services may not be operating
  • Apply all normal sensible safety precautions and always wear a life jacket when on deck.
  • Pubs and restaurants are not allowed to open as normal – although some may offer takeaway services. Check with any businesses you wish to visit before you leave home.
  • Your vessel will require a short visit or annual toll to enter the water in the navigation area/adjacent waters.

Finally, please be caring, kind and considerate of local residents who may be nervous about the risks of increased numbers of people accessing the Broads and the waterways.

1.5 Can I use my canoe, kayak or paddleboard?

You are able to use your canoe, kayak or paddleboard for private recreational use on the Broads waterways.

Please be mindful of your visit, plan ahead and ensure you follow social distancing guidelines.

You will require either an annual toll or a short visit toll depending on how often you plan to use your craft in the water. If you plan to use or keep your vessel for more than 28 days between 1st April and 31 March you need to register your craft and pay for an annual toll. For those who plan to use their vessel for 28 days a year or less you can purchase a short visit toll.

If you are a member of British Canoeing you are licensed to canoe, kayak or stand up paddleboard on any of the Broads Authority waterways including the main rivers and associated broads and dykes without requiring a toll on your craft.

1.6 Can I go angling and can I fish from my boat overnight?

You are able to enjoy angling on the Broads waterways now that the coarse fishing season has opened on 16 June, providing you follow local rules and have a fishing licence (purchased from the Environment Agency). Please be courteous of other river users and maintain social distancing at all times.

Night fishing is permitted from riverbanks and boats.

1.7 Can I water-ski?

Yes you can, providing you follow the existing restrictions in place and maintain social distancing.

2. Hire craft and other commercial operations

2.1 Are hire boat companies currently open, and am I able to provide paddle/sailing lessons?

Yes - hire boat companies are currently able to operate, hiring vessels to members of a single household or support bubble. Lessons are also permitted as long as social distancing is adhered to.

2.2 Can I hire a boat for a holiday?

Yes - from 4 July, boat hire companies that offer overnight stays are permitted to re-open as long as Government hygiene and social distancing (COVID-19 Secure guidelines) are adhered to.

The Authority urges anyone considering hiring a boat to think about ongoing restrictions which may require them to plan ahead by bringing drinks and picnics or finding out in advance which businesses and facilities are open. It is likely that handover times may have changed and other measures will be introduced by boatyards to facilitate the safe  operation of hire yards. Please speak to your hire yard directly with any queries of this nature.

During your visit, it is wise to avoid known popular Broads hotspots so that social distancing can be maintained. Litter has been a problem is some other National Parks so visitors are urged to take litter home with them, and to check toilet facilities in advance to avoid going to the toilet outside.

2.3 Can boat trips operate after 4 July?

Yes, skippered boat trips are able to operate as long as social distancing and 'working safely during COVID-19' guidelines are followed.

3. Marinas, boatyards and other facilities

3.1 Are marinas, boatyards and other waterways repair businesses able to re-open?

Yes - From 4 July most businesses are able to re-open with the exception of those who are to remain closed under Government instruction. Business operators should follow social distancing requirements, ensure the safety of staff and customers and assess the risks from COVID-19 as soon as possible.

Marina operators are able to decide the manner in which they open and the freedoms they will offer to those who have craft in their marina. If it is safe to do so, boat owners should be allowed by the marina operator to sit in, work on and use their craft, as well as take their craft out for overnight trips from 4 July.

3.2 Are Broads Authority Yacht Stations and Tourist Information Centres re-opening?

From 4 July, the Broads Authority's Yacht Stations at Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Reedham are open.

Showers, toilets and pump out facilities are open at Yacht Stations (excluding Reedham), with additional cleaning and hygiene measures in place. Visitors can receive advice, assistance with mooring and purchase short visit tolls as usual. Toilet facilities and the Dunes River Cafe at Acle Bridge will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

To comply with new regulations, from 24 July face coverings will be required for all members of the public to enter Broads Authority Tourist Information Centres and Yacht Stations.

Although usual water and electric points are available with additional sanitisation in place, please ensure that you wash your hands before/after use.

Previous restrictions on stern-on mooring have been removed, however please be considerate and provide others with enough space to safely moor taking into account your vessel type and surroundings.

Double mooring where permitted and where social distancing can be achieved (e.g. between household groups, or those not wishing to access the bank) is still allowed on Broads Authority 24 hour moorings, however it is not permitted at Yacht Stations in order to facilitate social distancing between Broads Authority Quay Assistants and visitors who wish to moor.

As a result of this, spaces at our Yacht Stations ware limited. We therefore urge hirers to plan their journey ahead and arrive in good time before dusk, particularly at Great Yarmouth where the nearest 24 hour mooring is a considerable distance away. Hirers are encouraged to contact our Yacht Stations in advance if they are planning to arrive late on in the day to receive advice and check for availability of spaces.

Social distancing measures and one-way systems are in force at Tourist Information Centres.

3.3 Are pubs and restaurants opening in the Broads area?

Yes - Restaurants, cafes, bars, and pubs (that are self-contained and can be accessed from the outside) are permitted to re-open from 4 July onwards assuming they follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

Please contact individual businesses directly or visit their websites/social media if you require more information.

3.4 I manage a marina, what steps should be taken to open it safely?

Defra has advised that marina owners should refer to government guidance on outdoor sports facilities and maintaining social distancing.

4. Boating concerns

4.1 My Boat Safety certificate has run out and I can’t renew it – what should I do?

Vessels are now expected to have valid BSS certificates, please see the BSS website for more information.

4.2 Can I have a discount on my toll for the period I couldn't use my boat?

There are no plans for a tolls discount or rebate at this moment in time. Private boats that are kept or used in the Broads navigation area or adjacent waters do still need to be tolled, regardless of whether the Government lockdown meant they could not be accessed. We fully appreciate the frustrations that some private owners have had in not being able to use their vessels during this time, coupled with financial concerns that many are facing.

We ask for your understanding that your tolls have funded essential navigation works which, because they have carried on throughout the COVID-19 shutdown, have meant that the Authority was in a position to welcome boats back to the water before other inland navigation authorities.

If you are having difficulty paying your toll or are experiencing financial concerns, the Authority will give careful consideration to exceptional circumstances. Please speak to our Tolls Team on 01603 756080 for more information and advice.

Wednesday 1 July 2020