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.

An RNLI volunteer wearing a face covering smiles as she sorts through shop items

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. 

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 


Self-isolating means you must stay at home and avoid all contact with others. The current self-isolation process reflects the changes to government guidelines introduced in August 2021.

You must self-isolate immediately if:

  • You have any coronavirus symptoms
  • You’ve tested positive for coronavirus
  • 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 are double vaccinated / under 18, you no longer need to isolate if:

  • You have been contacted by your government's tracking system either directly or via the official app
  • Someone you live with is displaying symptoms or has tested positive.

In this case, please book in for a PCR test and take a LFT every day for seven days.

If you are not double vaccinated / would prefer not to disclose your vaccination status, you will need to stay away from RNLI sites if:

  • You have been contacted by your government's tracking system either directly or via the official app
  • Someone you live with is displaying symptoms or has tested positive. 

When to report to the RNLI 

As of 17 September 2021, Covid-19 cases or isolations for volunteers don't need to be reported centrally. You should still let your volunteer or line manager know if you have to isolate, especially if there is a potential impact on our lifesaving operations. 

Information for RNLI volunteers

Requesting a PCR test

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

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 your RNLI manager.

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 your RNLI manager.


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 

Wearing face coverings is no longer mandatory at RNLI sites, however please ensure you are following the governmental guidance in your local area. We would still encourage you to wear a face covering in crowded or enclosed settings with limited ventilation.

Visiting sites safely 

It’s important to remember that the regions are operating at different levels of Covid-safety due to local government restrictions. So safety measures and restrictions will be different across the different regions. If in doubt – contact the regional leadership team for guidance or permission to visit a site.

From 6 September, all staff, volunteers and organised external visitors are allowed access to stations. Station management retain the right to restrict access and numbers, so please always check with them beforehand. Please follow the local restrictions and guidance, and any specific requests from station management.

Removal of social distancing, one-way systems and restrictions on customer / visitor numbers will be considered on a case by case basis for each individual location by the shop, museum and visitor centre management team. Where co-located with a station, this will also be considered in line with station restrictions. 

Screens and hand sanitiser will continue to be used, and where face coverings are not mandatory, we encourage volunteers and customers to continue wearing them.

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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