Traversing a Lock Safely During the 2020 Pandemic

The EA has now lifted restrictionsand the river is now open.  Knowing that the boating crowd are a fairly sensible lot all in all, they’ve deemed short day trips safe.  If you are going to be on the river and going through locks during this time, we suggest something like this….


Going through the lock on your own – This one is the simplest, you will just need to take extra care and be aware of your surroundings as you normally would, plus wash your hands thoroughly (also washing any equipment you have touched with your hands, such as the lock key) on your return to your vessel.

If you see a boat going through a lock, leave them to it rather than going to help which many of us usually do.  Wait on our boat until they have passed by.


Two boats in the lock – Again, fairly straight forward.  Each lock has two sides, one boat crew gets off one side and vice versa, with each boat crew always remaining on their own side of the lock.  If you are on the port side, your crew does the port side gate, if the electric is on the port side then your crew is in charge of the buttons.  Once boarding your vessel, was hands and all equipment.  You are more than 2m apart and outdoors so no need for masks.

When you are out of your vessel do not touch your face, you will be touching lock gates, and other river furniture, we know the virus does not last long outdoors but you do not know when the last boat crew went through.

If you are on a river where you need to reset the lock for the next boat, then the same rules should apply to each boat resetting their own side of the lock, before departing.


More than two boats in a lock – Do not overcrowd locks, both for safety and for social distancing reasons. Visualise the lock as having four ‘corners’.

  1. The electrics to raise the guillotine
  2. Lock gate port side
  3. Lock gate starboard side
  4. A ‘corner’ with nothing to do opposite the electric box (more on this later)

Boaters can easily get their vessels into the lock, each person responsible for their own ropes.  Do not throw or catch ropes from another household.   Everyone moors ready to begin the procedure.

Only one boat crew can be at any one corner, so willing crew members go to the ‘corner’ nearest their boat.  If all corners are already manned, stay aboard.  If a corner is unmanned a boaters hearty call is all that is required!

Corners 1,2, and 3 it’s obvious what you do.  If that is your corner, you remain there until your job is completed.  The person at corner 4 is the watcher.  Watching for boats caught on chains and other general boating safety and hazards.  No one wants to be calling the emergency services out or going to A&E.  They should also watch for people observing 2m rule, we are all new to this and will occasionally lose concentration – I think a watcher is a good idea for these reasons.  The watcher just calls to people to make them aware of their surroundings.


Once aboard your own vessel, wash hands and all equipment used.  Stow equipment safely until the next lock.

Following the ideas above the 2m social distancing should automatically occur.  Keep alert and aware of your surroundings at all times and keep everyone safe.


Happy boating!



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