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Operating model for activities at Tower Hamlets Canoe Club in the presence of COVID-19. These rules supercede any previous rules during the period of COVID-19 operations.

Importance of following the rules

It is imperative that these rules are followed, for members’ safety as well as to avoid consequences for the Basin. Members who choose not to follow the rules will have one warning, and if there is no improvement, then they won’t be able to sign up for sessions until restrictions are lifted and paddling is back to normal. SBOAC will be applying a 2m social distancing rule notwithstanding any official guidance. We will therefore also be using 2m as our requirement as well.


  • Club activities are currently open for members only – no visitors or walk-ups are permitted, and we will not be running the customary monthly new member induction programmes.
  • Only members who have completed and signed the COVID-19 consent form are allowed to paddle. Consent forms need to be signed once only per member and will be available at the start of the session for any members who have not completed them yet.
  • Members who have been advised to shield by a medical practitioner or official advice should not attend.
  • Members who have symptoms* of COVID-19, or have been in contact with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 in the previous 21 days, are not allowed to attend. [Symptoms include a temperature, a new persistent cough, altered senses (like loss of taste or smell)]
  • Members who cannot travel safely to and from the Basin as per Public Health Guidelines should not attend.


  • Club trips will currently not be permitted.
  • Private trips are permitted subject to the following additional conditions:
    • Members who arrange private trips must travel responsibly – generally this means no car-sharing with members outside the same household or ‘social bubble’ in line with official advice.
    • Boats can be booked in the normal way following the equipment booking process
    • Boats can be collected from the Basin as usual - like on a Thursday or Friday evening - and returned as usual - like on a Sunday evening
    • Any club or Basin equipment which is removed MUST BE CLEANED when it is put back.
    • Failure to clean will result in the member not being allowed to borrow equipment for the foreseeable future
    • The site is covered by CCTV so spot checks will be made!

Limited numbers and required roles

  • There will be two paddling sessions per week. On a Tuesday evening the session will be on the Basin only. On Wednesday evening the session will be on the Thames only.
  • A maximum of 12 paddlers + some Club officials to supervise can be accommodated for each session.
  • Sign up:
    • Members who want to paddle must sign up using the forum by 8pm on the day before the session.
  • Duty officer:
    • Position 1. of the sign-up list is reserved for a Duty Officer. The Duty officer (DO) will be responsible for overseeing the procedures (that person might end up doing very little paddling).
    • DO’s responsibilities are:
      • Open or check that the site is open: gate, cages, paddle store
      • Record assignment of paddlers into groups of up to 6 maximum according to THCC rules on the white board, so people know which group they are in – no sharing of stationary
      • Make sure people do not gather in one place, create congestion, e.g. in front of office, cage, paddle store, BA store, etc.
      • Mark areas where paddlers will place their boats after getting them form the cage and before launching for the session
      • The DO should be last on the water and one of the first persons off the water.
  • Experienced paddlers / coaches:
    • Positions 2. – 3. of the sign-up list is reserved for experienced paddlers (those holding an Lx or 4* or above qualification or Club officials).
  • Boat helpers:
    • 2 members need to volunteer to be boat helpers for the session. Boat helpers are the only ones permitted inside the boat cage to retrieve boats as requested by members waiting outside the boat cage. Boat helpers should regularly clean their hands using hand sanitizer placed inside the boat cage.
  • The session can’t go ahead without a Duty Officer, 2 boat helpers and sufficient experienced paddlers to ensure at least 1 experienced paddler per group of 6 paddlers.

The DO and the boat helpers may consume beer and gratitude at the end of the session, provided by the other paddlers.

  • Members should not arrive unexpectedly (without reserving a place on the forum the previous day) as there is no expectation that they will be able to paddle.  

Getting and returning equipment

Keys should be gotten from and returned to John the caretaker as usual.

In order to comply with 2m social distancing measures:

  • Office: only 1 person in office at any one time – ideally only the DO or a committee member
  • Paddle store: only 1 paddler in paddle store at any one time.
  • Boat cage: only the nominated boat helpers will retrieve equipment out of the big cage as requested by members waiting outside the boat cage. (Boat helpers will sanitise their hands frequently.)

Getting ready for paddling

  • The changing rooms are closed. Each paddler must come prepared from paddling from work/home, or in such a way to minimize changing in front of the Centre before and after the session.
  • Where a member needs additional privacy the alleyway behind climbing wall may be used by up to 3 people observing social distancing. Members who choose to paddle accept that they will not experience the same level of privacy as on a ‘normal’ non-COVID session.
  • Due to the risk of transmission and to minimise the pressure on cleaning and mainly on drying of equipment paddlers are encouraged to bring their own paddling equipment as much as they can, e.g. BAs, spraydecks and cags.
  • No lockers are available during this period. All paddlers need to come with minimum stuff – personal equipment can be stored in boats or in small bags which will be locked in the office while on the water.

Which equipment to use

  • Boats: THCC boats only except for open canoes. Any boats used during a session will be quarantined for 72 hours after use, unless they have been disinfected.
  • Paddles: both THCC & SBOAC; individually cleaned at the end of the session by their user and placed back or put aside for a 72 hour quarantine.
  • BAs: Designated BAs only (THCC owned plus any long-term loan from SBOAC). BAs should be placed into the storage box and quarantined for 72 hours after use.


For the time being, attendance is limited to self-sufficient paddlers or those able to do things independently following verbal support only. Those needing more physical help need to work in household groups.

  • Launching areas on the pontoon will be marked; maximum of 4 paddlers in designated spaces at the same time.
  • If people wish to paddle a sea kayak they have to be very clear at which part of the kayak each person will carry it, and put it on the water. Establish pairs to help each other and keep them throughout the session. i.e. the same pair carries the same boats at the same ends.
  • Launching from the slipway needs to comply with social distancing. Paddlers need to be able to launch independently using only their pair to bring the kayak to the slipway and onto the water. Kayak must be floating on the water. No sterns scrapping on the slipway!

Returning at the end of the session

  • The DO is responsible for preparing the cleaning equipment as paddlers come of the water and overseeing the process.
  • Each paddler is responsible for cleaning personal equipment used which will not be placed into quarantine: paddle, BA, spray deck.
  • Each paddler is responsible for cleaning their boat if it will not be placed into quarantine according to guidance: touch points, seat, cockpit rim using the disinfecting sprayer provided.
  • Boats must be returned to the cage by the paddler / designated pair with only 3 people allowed in the cage simultaneously and maintaining 2m social distancing.


The Basin must be cleaned / sanitised at the end of the session. Cleaning involves:

  • Clean all touch points: locks, handles (use the chemical sprayer)
  • Spray toilets and wipe dry
  • Mop up any water or mud in the corridors (cleaning bucket and mop in SBOAC BA store)

The cleaning roster must be signed at the end of the session.

COVID Cleaning.jpg. This is what the cleaning equipment looks like.

It is kept in the paddle store.

Basin facilities which are available

  • Toilets: only 2 people in toilets at any one time – one male, one female.
  • Changing rooms and showers will be closed and not accessible.
  • Hand gels / sanitisers / basic cleaning products: available for members’ use when accessing the office, paddle store, etc.