Covid 19 – way forward from Waterways Ireland – May 29

MARINE NOTICE No. 44 of 2020

Shannon Navigation, Shannon-Erne Waterway, Royal Canal, Grand Canal, Barrow Line & Navigation

Roadmap for reopening of navigations

Waterways Ireland wishes to advise all Masters of vessels and water users of the Shannon Navigation, Shannon-Erne Waterway, Royal Canal, Grand Canal, Barrow Line and Navigation that the following roadmap for reopening of the navigations: 

Navigational Use

It is important to understand that it will take time to fully open all navigations. It requires the introduction of new COVID-19 procedures and protocols for compliance with Health and Safety legislation. This involves the management and mitigation of risk, training of staff and provision of resources for the protection of staff and waterway users.  We ask all our boaters to continue to observe the regulations. 

We advise users on our ROI navigations that:

  • Locks on the Shannon Navigation, Shannon-Erne Waterway, Royal Canal, Grand Canal, Barrow Line and Navigation will reopen on 8th June 2020.
  • Winter mooring facilities have been further extended until 20th July 2020 in order to ease the pressure on our boating community.  Boaters do not need to travel to move their vessel. There will be no additional cost for this extension;
  • Navigation is open within 5km of your home. All Waterways Ireland service blocks are closed.
  • Travel in excess of 5km (ROI only) from your home to check on vessels moored on the navigation is prohibited until further notice;
  • Our towpaths remain open and accessible for local exercise.  We are however asking users of our canal towpaths to limit their use, and only use towpaths which are in close vicinity (5km in ROI) of your home. 



  • Electricity and water services have been reconnected;
  • Normal pump-out facilities are available for boaters.  Owners must ensure that travel to pump-out facilities must be undertaken in a responsible manner, minimising the amount of essential movement out on the water;
  • When on jetties please be aware of other users. Wait or move aside to allow others to pass at a safe distance.
  • All Waterways Ireland service blocks are closed.

Canal Towpaths and walks

Our plea to everyone thinking of using our towpaths is:

  • Observe social distancing protocols – keep a distance of at least 2m (6 feet) away from other people;
  • Use the towpaths for brief physical exercise only;
  • Limit use – do not take part in physical activity on towpaths which have the potential for large numbers, where social distancing cannot be observed comfortably;
  • Up to four people not of same household can meet outdoors while maintaining strict social distancing ;
  • Stay local to your home (5km ROI only);
  • As towpaths in some places can be narrow, when you pass someone, please make sure you use the full width of the towpath, keep moving, and stand aside to allow others to pass, in single file, when necessary;
  • If you can’t avoid passing a moored boat please keep as far away from it as possible and pass quickly by;
  • Be mindful of others and act always with consideration and with respect and observe the leave no trace principles and protect our environment;
  • Observe all health etiquettes when on the towpaths.

In all instances, social distancing must be maintained at all times keeping your distance from both other people and moored boats. Please refer to your relevant representative body for guidance on the most appropriate health and safety precautions and advice.

We recognise the situation is constantly changing and we ask for your patience during this time. Any updates to the situation will be communicated via the issuance of Marine Notices, through our Waterways Ireland Social Media channels and website.

While our staff are working from home, they are available by phone during normal working hours. Should you need our assistance please do contact us by email at or by phone  

Waterways Ireland thanks all vessel owners and operators for their co-operation in relation to this matter. 

P Harkin

Inspector of Navigation

29 May 2020

“Waterways Ireland, managing and promoting the inland waterways for the benefit of all…”

The five Reopening phases/steps are described here ROI Roadmap and here NI Roadmap