Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners are adjusting their stance in line with recent Government guidance (published May 11th) to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but allow for the reopening of public spaces and activities from Wednesday 13th May 2020. This includes the ability to spend time outdoors for recreation including unlimited exercise or sport, where (unless from the same household) social distancing can be maintained.
Having reviewed the related Government documentation, we interpret that from Wednesday 13th May Brightlingsea Harbour can be used for local exercise, sport, or spending time outdoors, where social distancing can be maintained.
Should you wish to use your vessel please bear in mind each step of the process and how you can maintain social distancing, especially whilst accessing pontoons or landings which might become busier than normal as people venture out, as well as making every attempt to remain safe and reduce the chance of requiring outside assistance.
Please be aware your boat is considered as a second home.
The Harbour will remain closed to visiting yachtsmen (from sea) as government guidance is clear that, apart from day trips, leaving your home - the place you live - to stay at a second home for a holiday or other purpose is NOT ALLOWED. This also pertains to resident vessels cruising elsewhere; local ports will not be expecting arrivals.
The Town Jetty is open but with social distancing measures in place, please pay attention to the signage and any directions you are given by the harbour staff.
Crabbing is not permitted from the jetty as this cannot be managed within the current social distancing guidelines.
Those wishing to launch boats may do so, however they should liaise with Harbour office or their particular boatyard or club prior to doing so.
Until further notice the Water Taxi will run 7 days a week, but only between 08:00 and 17:00, monitoring VHF channel 68. Crews will be delivered to boats independently, no mixed crews. This will mean waiting at some times.
Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners will attempt to monitor activity to the best of our ability and may impose limits or restrictions on accessing certain facilities (or busy areas) should their use prove to be concerning.
The Harbour Office is open with social distancing measures, able to take card payments, sell tokens, etc, in a safe manner, please take direction from staff. We continue to monitor our phones and email Monday to Friday between 08:00 and 17:00.
All staff are operating to a revised risk assessment to ensure their (and others) ongoing safety in line with current Government guidelines. We anticipate this safe system of work may have to be adjusted without notice to follow any further guidelines which may influence our services or to adapt to local issues as they are identified.
The Brightlingsea/Point Clear/East Mersea ferry is not in service.
Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners have had to interpret the government guidelines so as to provide a balance between social distancing and your ability to enjoy the water. We reserve the right to review these measures at any time if it is clear that social distancing is not or cannot be maintained in the course of enjoying the harbour.
The Harbour Commissioners will continue to review Government guidance and update our own guidance by early July at the latest. We appreciate your continued support in maintaining safe and efficient harbour operations whilst being able enjoy the benefits of getting afloat.
Further to our statement yesterday, Monday 11 May, in response to the Prime Minister’s announcement of some easing of the Covid-19 Lockdown restrictions, the Brightlingsea Harbour Team has been consulting widely to establish the impact of the new regulations on harbour-based leisure activities and water sports.
As Stakeholders will be aware, the Prime Minister’s message indicated that from tomorrow, Wednesday 13 May, some additional leisure and sporting activities will be permitted, either solo or with household members, provided social distancing requirements can be met. However, the statement did not provide guidance on individual sports or activities. BHC has therefore been seeking clarification from the various authorities relevant to the management of harbours and leisure boating.
As of 19.00 today, Tuesday 12 May, BHC understands that the British Ports Association, British Marine, the Harbour Masters Association and the Royal Yachting Association are all still awaiting further information from Government. Until such time as such clarification is issued by these bodies, we are unable to relax the current restrictions on use of and access to the Harbour.
We remain hopeful that some level of recreational water sports activity will be permitted in the very near future, and to that end the BHC team has been conducting risk assessments and preparing plans to facilitate the required social distancing and safe working practices that will be required.
We appreciate that our stakeholders and customers are anxious to get afloat and we regret that we are presently unable to provide the confirmation you would like on when the restrictions will be lifted, but please bear with us and rest assured that we are working closely with all the relevant bodies. As soon as the necessary clarifications are received a further update will be issued.
Following the Prime Minister’s statement delivered yesterday Sunday 10 May, it remains unclear whether leisure boating and waters sports will be among those permitted from Wednesday 13 May. The British Ports Association, British Marine, the Harbour Masters Association and the Royal Yachting Association are on standby to consider the Government’s detailed advice which is being delivered to Parliament at 14.00 this afternoon, Monday 11 May. Those bodies will then report to their members with advice on what is permitted and what restrictions and controls may be required/recommended. Your Harbour team awaits this information and will then provide a detailed update on the Harbour’s position by no later than Wednesday morning 13 May. Until that time we continue to follow the Government’s current advice in respect of Coronavirus and have measures in place to limit risks to port users, our staff, emergency services and the public.
Brightlingsea Harbour is a Statutory Harbour Authority which has a responsibility to ensure certain port duties are maintained. It is also required to provide pilotage services to commercial shipping. The harbour acts on advice from the Government and the chief scientist.
Until last night essential harbour operations were maintained, but with restrictions dictated by ‘social distancing’ that advice has now changed therefore;
The office is now closed to members of the public.
All leisure facilities are no longer supplied.
The water taxi is not operating.
The ferry will not operate.
The Town Jetty will be shut.
Visitors and Commercial operators may only enter the port having previously agreed with harbour.
A skeleton staff will operate limited to those who cannot work from home and will provide voluntary assistance to Essex Coronavirus Action group partnered with Essex county council. That will involve delivering essential food/equipment to stakeholders within the local area.
Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners hope that all stakeholders understand our position, which is to protect members of staff and the general public. It is not clear when advice will change, however when it does we will report it.