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.

In the latest film update above, our Chief Executive Mark Dowie looks ahead to our live update and Q&A on 22 June and shares news from across the charity. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in our recent safety and fundraising campaigns, and for everything you are doing in your role to save lives at sea.

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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 

'Every unnecessary interaction you have could be a link in a chain of transmission which has a vulnerable person at the end.'

Our lifesaving service depends on you – so please take necessary precautions to protect yourself and others. 


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

  • You have any symptoms (the main symptoms are: high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste) 
  • You’ve tested positive for coronavirus  
  • You live with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive 
  • If you’ve been in close contact with someone who has symptoms or who develops symptoms in the 48 hours after your contact (e.g. someone in your support bubble) 
  • 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. 

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

As restrictions begin to be loosened across the UK and Ireland, and with lateral flow testing (LFT) kits now becoming available more widely, we encourage you to make use of them as part of ensuring yours and your colleagues’ safety.

In England, Scotland and Wales, the governments are making LFT kits available to everyone for free. In other jurisdictions the tests are not available to everyone for free, but testing programmes are being regularly reviewed and extended. We will update this information as and when availability changes.

Anyone using these tests will be expected to follow this process based on test 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 Central Operations and Information Room (COIR) using the contact details above.

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 your questions. 


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.

What are the priority groups?

Find out more about the priority groups eligible for vaccination in the initial roll-out of vaccinations where you are based:

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 

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.  

As an emergency service, our lifesaving activity, maintenance, training and exercise will continue wherever possible, and your RNLI manager and support team will advise you if there any changes you need to be aware of in your area. Lifeboat maintenance and asset changes will however need to be prioritised in each region. Operational Teams can read more on Horizon (please note: you will need your RNLI email and password to log in to Horizon).  

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.

Flanking stations

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. 

Training and the RNLI College

The RNLI College will re-commence full training operations from 8 March. Operational teams can read more by logging in to Horizon using your RNLI email address and password.

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

Looking after yourself 

With the pandemic restrictions continuing for longer than any of us were expecting, and the short winter days, 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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