Waterways Ireland says it is currently planning the roadmap to the reopening of its navigations and the phased return of its workforce.
This plan will involve engaging with various stakeholders, such as user groups and other State agencies, and will be made available by 18 May when the first phase of easing Covid-19 restrictions is scheduled to begin.
“We recognise the situation is constantly changing and we ask for your patience during this time,” it said, adding that any updates to the situation will be communicated via the usual channels.
In the meantime, navigation on inland waterways is now permitted up to 5km from home within the Republic of Ireland only, provided social distancing is observed at all times.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the winter mooring period has been extended until 31 May at no additional cost. Travel in excess of 5km from home to check on moored vessels remains prohibited until further notice.
Electricity and water services have been reconnected following recent flooding issues, and pump-out facilities are available, but service blocks remain closed across the Shannon Navigation, Shannon-Erne Waterway, Royal and Grand Canals, Barrow Line and Barrow Navigation.
Canal towpaths are accessible for brief local exercise, now within 5km of home, with social distancing protocols applying.
“We would like to thank all stakeholders in observing the regulations and restrictions imposed on and along our waterways,” said the cross-border body.
“Your observance of such regulations is having a positive impact on the spread of the virus, releasing pressure on our health services, which are now, more than ever, required to protect those who are most in need. We ask you to continue to keep up the good work.
“Our message to all users of our waterways continues to be PLEASE STAY AT HOME.”
Meanwhile, Shannon Navigation cruiser hire firm Carrickcraft plans to reopen from 20 July to tap into the expected late summer ‘staycation’ market, as reported yesterday on Afloat.ie.