Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Please check back on this page regularly to make sure you have the most up to date information about our response to the pandemic and everything you need to keep yourself and others safe, and our lifesaving services running.

With the Delta variant currently spreading rapidly around a number of our communities, we need to remain vigilant this summer. Whether we're volunteering at an RNLI site or from home, we all have a responsibility to protect ourselves and each other from coronavirus, so we can keep our lifesaving services running and protect members of the public. 

Please watch the latest film update from RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie above and read this message from Lifesaving Operations Director John Payne. Our lifesaving service depends on you – so please take necessary precautions to protect yourself and others. 

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Latest governmental guidance 

With government guidelines and restrictions regularly changing, you can find the latest instructions for your area on the following sites: 

Self-isolating and reporting 

On 19 July 2021, we introduced a new process around self-isolating and lateral flow testing for RNLI close contacts of someone who has to self-isolate for one of the below reasons. The changes should mean that fewer team members will need to self-isolate following contact – which should, in turn, put less strain on some of our key lifesaving, production and fundraising activities over the next few weeks.


Self-isolating means you must stay at home and avoid all contact with others. You must self-isolate immediately if:

  • You have any coronavirus symptoms
  • You’ve tested positive for coronavirus 
  • You live with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive
  • You’re told to self-isolate by a governmental contact tracing service
  • You arrive in the UK or Republic of Ireland from a country with quarantine regulations and are informed you need to self-isolate.

If you have to self-isolate for any of the above reasons, you must not visit an RNLI site or participate in lifesaving operations – even if you are not showing any symptoms.

If you think you’ve been in contact with someone who has coronavirus, but you do not have symptoms and have not been told to self-isolate, you should continue to follow social distancing advice.

If you are contacted by your RNLI manager because you have been identified as a potential RNLI close contact of a confirmed or suspected case, and you can't fulfil your duties remotely, you will need to follow the process outlined in this guidance (PDF-154KB). Please note, there are two processes: one for the UK where LFT is being used, and one for the Republic of Ireland where it isn't being used.

You can read more about this process by logging in to Horizon with your RNLI email address and password, or by contacting the member of staff who supports you and your team.

If you are unsure and need support, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Central Operations and Information Room using the contact details below.

Requesting a test 

If you develop symptoms you must follow your government’s advice to self-isolate, and request a test via: 

When to report to the RNLI 

We are currently asking everyone to report if they have to self-isolate for any of the reasons outlined above. This is especially important if: 

  • you have been to one of our sites  
  • you have come into contact with anyone working or volunteering for the RNLI 
  • you have operational duties that you may not be able to fulfil. 

How to report 

If you have a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus, or are required to self-isolate, you must report this as soon as practicable. If this happens over the weekend, please don’t wait until Monday to report it as it puts unnecessary pressure on the Central Operations and Information Room.

The Central Operations and Incident Room at the RNLI Support Centre is available 24/7 via:

UK: 0800 011 3129
Republic of Ireland: 1800 200 376
International: +448451 668222

A duty Covid-19 response manager will then contact you to advise you of what actions you need to take.  

Information for RNLI volunteers

Lateral flow testing

In the UK, LFT kits are available to everyone for free. 

Anyone using these tests will be expected to follow this process based on LFT results:

Negative LFT: you can go to your place of work as usual.

Invalid LFT: you need to repeat the test. If it comes back invalid a second time, you will need to treat the result as positive and follow the steps below.

Positive LFT: you must:

  • stay at home and book a PCR test
  • self-isolate until you receive the PCR test results
  • contact the COIR.

Negative PCR: you can return to normal duties and let the COIR know that you no longer need to self-isolate.

Positive PCR: you must:

  • self-isolate according to your government’s guidelines
  • report your positive PCR result to the COIR.

Find out more about lateral flow testing including a Q&A to help answer some of your questions in this news article.


Currently all approved vaccinations against Covid-19 are available only via your local healthcare services.

Unless there are significant changes to governmental approach, you will be called for vaccination according to the priority groups set out by your government and/or local NHS Trust. These are based on factors such as age and any underlying health conditions that may make you vulnerable to the virus. 

Vaccination is not mandatory for RNLI volunteers, but we strongly encourage everyone to get the vaccination as soon as it is available to you. We’ve created a Covid-19 Vaccination Q&A (PDF - 165KB) to help answer some of the most common questions you’ve been asking. If you have any additional questions, please email  

Wearing a face covering 

Everyone (volunteers, staff, contractors and visitors) must now wear a face covering at all times when inside any RNLI buildings. The only exception to this rule is if you’re volunteering at a desk / workstation or if you have an exemption. If you have an exemption, please contact your RNLI manager to determine if additional control measures can be applied.

Station access and visiting sites safely 

Lifeboat stations remain operational but are not open to visitors. Non-operational personnel are still not allowed into lifeboat stations, so those who need to work at a station or support critical training and maintenance can continue to do so.   

In order to avoid cross infection, minimise travel between stations. Critical visits only. Avoid direct travel to one or more flanking stations sequentially where practical. 

RNLI shops, visitor centres and museums will open as governmental guidance allows. You should speak to your RNLI manager if you have any questions about what is open in your local area. 

If you need to visit any RNLI site, please make sure you watch this film about visiting sites safely before your visit. You can also download a PDF of the slides in the video. 

Training and the RNLI College

We are running a four-week trial, whereby anyone coming to the College for training will be asked to take the LFT before they come to the College, and provide evidence that the test result is negative. Testing kits will be sent out to all attendees in advance of them travelling to Poole with more information about the trial.

This trial will help to provide an additional assurance for courses where social distancing and the ability to wear PPE is not possible (for example capsize training). It will also, hopefully, mean that no-one should test positive while at the College and be required to self-isolate there for a number of days.

We are not currently accepting any bookings for external guests at the RNLI College. 

Looking after yourself 

While we are still navigating through the challenges of the ongoing pandemic, it’s never been more important for us to look after ourselves and each other.  

The wellbeing page on the Volunteer Zone has a wealth of tips and resources to help you focus on your physical and mental wellbeing and manage your stress levels. You can also find out more about the support available to you at the RNLI, including Support 24/7

Any questions?

 If you have any questions that aren’t answered here, please email

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