Paddling & COVID-19 Public Health Measures

Posted By: Canoe Kayak Canada

In the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, CKC continues to ask the Canadian paddling community to respect the Government of Canada’s direction to carefully follow physical distancing practices and to respect the directives and regulations of all public health authorities and governments at every level. Now is the opportunity for us to be diligent leaders in our communities. Through our actions, we can contribute to the control of the spread of this virus.

CKC will continue to monitor and assess the national situation but notes that Club / Divisional / Provincial / Territorial and National Team paddling programs should only resume when the appropriate Municipal, Provincial and Federal Public Health and government authorities modify applicable restrictions and/or closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CKC recognizes that these restrictions may be modified or lifted at different times across the country depending on the evolution of the pandemic and the actions taken by the various levels of government in specific jurisdictions.

The following guidelines have been created for our member organizations, to assist in their modification of operations to align with the varied and evolving public health measures in place across Canada. At no time should these guidelines be interpreted as superseding or providing a justification for not closely following public health directives, government regulations or further canoe kayak specific or general return to sport guidelines in a given member organization’s municipality/province/territory.

Although ultimate decision-making authority rests with member organizations regarding any actions to be taken as deconfinement measures evolve, CKC will continue to provide support and ongoing outreach to all member organizations and clubs as they make their own decisions on returning to operations and paddling, based on the unique situations in their own jurisdiction.

A chart is included below with links to all relevant Federal, Provincial and Territorial COVID-19 public health sources. Member organizations and clubs should also consult with their respective Provincial/Territorial Sport Organizations for further guidance and measures which may be applicable.

According to assessment using tools developed by Own the Podium, paddling can be a low risk activity as it relates to contracting COVID-19 if proper steps are taken and if the vast majority of activity takes place outdoors and at the required physical distance. It is important to note that CKC’s On-Water Safety Policies apply at all times. All members should be aware of the serious risks posed by cold water conditions in many areas of the country at this time. Specifically, for Sprint paddlers, when water temperatures are below 8°C, the Cold-Water Safety regulations (Section 2.2) must be understood and followed.


Guidelines on Canoe Kayak Specific Measure


Personal Health ·      All paddlers, coaches/leaders or anyone else who will be part of the paddling environment should be acutely aware of and must continuously monitor their own personal health.

·      Any person who has had a confirmed case of COVID-19, or who has come into close contact with a person who has a confirmed case, should isolate, not be part of the paddling environment for at least 14 days and seek appropriate medical attention.

·      All individuals in the paddling environment should self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 on a daily basis and any person showing symptoms should self-isolate, refrain from entering the paddling environment or coming into close contact with others and seek appropriate medical attention.

·      Any individual who is at elevated risk for COVID-19 infection should take any necessary further precautions to protect themselves. Paddlers and Coach/Leaders should work together to support and implement these further measures to ensure an inclusive and safe environment. If an individual is concerned about their risk level, they should consult with a medical professional. Information related to who may be at elevated risk for infection is available here

·      The Government of Canada COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool is available here:

Modified use of Club/Recreation Facilities ·      Clubs/Divisions/PTSOs should consult Provincial/Municipal health authorities to understand the local risks and implications of resuming outdoor paddling activities, in addition to the use of club facilities or any public areas to support outdoor activity.  This may include, but is not limited to, removal of boats/equipment and  accessing public waterways.

·      If the activity is being organized at a location other than an organization’s conventional training location, all potential restrictions or considerations for the place of meeting/launching should be understood (for example, if a city park is being used, or private property.)

·      Coaches/leaders should ensure proper medical and sanitation equipment is available to meet all guidelines related, and should be properly instructed on how to use these products.

·      Coaches/ leaders should arrive ahead of paddlers and prepare the club environment/safety boats/facility for paddler arrival. Any special considerations for paddlers at an elevated risk, or for whom specific assistance will be required should be planned in advance and follow proper infection protection protocols.

·      Paddlers should not enter facilities except where necessary, and anyone entering a facility should follow all relevant guidance in relation to physical distancing, limiting contact with surfaces and facility managers should follow sanitation guidelines (see below.) A necessary reason to enter a facility could be related to safety, sanitary or health-related reasons.

·      Where possible, boats and paddles should be stored outdoors to remove the necessity of entering a facility.

·      Paddlers should arrive wearing their paddling clothing.

Group Gathering Size ·      Training group size, including all paddlers, coaches/leaders and required safety personnel must respect Provincial/Municipal group gathering size restrictions. Notwithstanding these regional restrictions, CKC recommends training groups be kept to a minimum practical size to reduce risk where possible.

·      If multiple training groups are established, they should be kept intact so that the same group of people are training together, and the circle of potential contact is not expanded unnecessarily.

Physical Distance (2 metres) ·      Always maintain 2 metres between all individuals before, during and after paddling activity.

·      Paddlers enter boat bays/containers one at a time and retrieve boat/paddle/PFD, if car-top transporting boats, caution should be taken where unloading and loading boats to maintain physical distance. If shuttling participants from start to finish points is a necessary part of the planned paddling activity, all measures should be taken to ensure this can happen while maintaining physical distancing where possible, and further risk mitigation must be put into effect if it is not (for example, wearing of masks while in vehicles.)

·      For paddlers requiring assistance with launching or disembarking, further precaution should be taken to lower risk if this process may bring individuals closer than 2m.

·      Paddlers should prepare and get on the water while remaining physically distanced (one person on dock if necessary)

·      No crew boat paddling in boats where paddlers are placed within 2 metres of each other at any time, unless the entire crew can be quarantined in self-isolation together (for example living in the same house.)

·      If paddlers who are not quarantined together choose to paddle in a boat which will allow all crew members to remain 2 metres apart at all times, all caution should be taken to avoid incidental contact and any applicable measures regarding this type of incidental contact should be taken. (for example, wearing of face covering).

·      Be conscious while on the water to respect physical distance between boats, wash riding should only be employed in a way that ensures 2m of distance is maintained at all times.

Sanitation ·      All surfaces which may be touched by multiple individuals should be sanitized before and after each training session.

·      Equipment should not be shared between athletes in a group. Club boats, PFDs, paddles, polo balls or other equipment should be assigned to an individual paddler for the duration of public health measures and kept separate from other paddlers and their equipment (brought home).

·      If it is necessary that boats are being shared between paddlers in different groups, sanitation practices should be strictly applied between uses.

·      Sanitation practices should follow the Canadian Government guidelines for cleaning hard surfaces –

Safety Contingencies ·      All participants (paddlers, coaches/leaders) are strongly encouraged to wear a Government of Canada approved PFD at all times while in the boat, irrespective of their age or swimming ability.

·      Responding to an incident on or off the water (athlete tips/other injury) may cause a coach/leader to come in physical contact with a paddler. As such, coaches/leaders should always have gloves, masks and hand sanitizer available to protect themselves and paddlers should contact become necessary.

·      Paddlers who are likely to capsize and need rescuing should not be on the water or should use a more stable boat. Where and when possible, paddlers should self-rescue to avoid contact with a coach/leader.

·      Coaches/leaders should be aware of and understand the processes outlined in the Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (Forthcoming from OTP/COC/COC Work Group).

·      During this time, unnecessary risks should be avoided. Paddlers and coaches/leaders should use common sense to avoid any situation which involves undue risk and the potential need for emergency personnel to respond, or that unnecessary personal contact becomes necessary.

Communication & Governance ·      Paddlers, guardians, and all relevant community members should be fully informed of all measures so that they can be safely followed at all times.

·      Relevant signage and marking should be put into place so that all measures are easy to follow and that participants are continually reminded of the modifications required. (For example: distancing markings on the ground to reinforce 2 metres of distance, signage to ensure paddlers stay outside facilitates, etc.)

·      Member organizations should ensure participants are properly registered and insured, proper waivers have been signed and all other normal membership considerations have been taken into account.


Federal, Provincial and Territorial – COVID-19 Public Health Links



British Columbia English only
New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador
Northwest Territories
Nova Scotia


Prince Edward Island
Saskatchewan English only


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