Living with coronavirus and the economic fall out

Published: Wednesday, 01 April 2020

DUE to the Thames flooding early in October last year we were unable to return to our home moorings, writes Stewart Downs.

This forced us to take moorings in a marina on the Oxford Canal. Paying for two moorings was a strain on our limited resources but unavoidable.

Completely abandoned by CaRT and EA

The world changed overnight and we lost 50% of our income, which forced us to move the boat to our home moorings rather quickly.  Having informed both Canal & river Trust and the Environmental Agency of our intentions we successfully completed the nightmare journey last week, completely abandoned by CaRT and EA.

The journey was made considerably more difficult and dangerous by the EA withdrawing all lock keepers and turning off the power at the locks.

Have to come to terms with coronavirus

Individuals, business, charities and organisations are going to have to come to terms with living with coronavirus.  Food retail is leading the way with screens for cashiers and restrictions on the numbers of customers allowed into the stores. They realise that they have to adapt to the threat of the coronavirus, as we all will need to once the lockdown ends.

The waterways are no different, CaRT and the EA need to stop abandoning boaters and businesses connected to the waterways and focus on the future and how to live with coronavirus.  Risk assessments need to be carried out similar to the ones being carried out in food retail and solutions found on how to live with the threat.

Need to plan

The management of both organisations need to use this time to plan how they can live with the threat.  It is not rocket science, just common sense.

Example (simplified) EA lock keeper.

Risk—Being contaminated by a boater by coming into contact them. 

Control measureKeep all crew on the boat at all times.  Develop a distance method of attaching boaters' mooring lines that reduces physical contact with the mooring lines and crew.

Contaminated by public

RiskBeing contaminated by members of the public that are in close proximity to the lock keeper.

Control measureRestrict access to members of the public with barriers, notices etc,  A far more detailed risk assessment would be required but the problems are not insurmountable.

If the waterways are to survive it is vital that both managements work quickly to find solutions.  More importantly, once they are found then they need to present them to the government and seek approval to implement them.

We suspect that if this is not carried out boaters will stop paying for licences and moorings and the waterways will deteriorate beyond repair.

Stewart and Kerry, Nb Blue Griffin