Displaying items by tag: COVID19
Ferry Travel: The prospect of a 2020 holiday abroad seemed all but lost a few weeks ago, but as thoughts turn to the reopening of our country and European destinations begin to lift restrictions, Irish Ferries is delighted to announce new measures to help holidaymakers get away when it’s time.
These additional safety measures will help to ensure customers are guaranteed the safest and most comfortable way to get to their chosen holiday destination in the UK or France when the time comes to travel again.
Many Irish families will have recent or distant memories of holidays in France, and Irish Ferries is delighted to reconnect Irish holidaymakers with the beautiful country. With amazing culture and history, Normandy is ready to be explored. Or hop in the car to Brittany, which has countless beaches to soak up some well-deserved sun, as well as ample destinations to take trips to from La Pointe Saint Mathieu to the iconic Mont Saint-Michel Bay.
With sailings to the UK, families, couples or friends can re-connect with loved ones after many months apart, or simply enjoy a holiday. Haven Holiday Parks are set to open throughout July, perfect for families in Wales. Easy to get to from Holyhead also is the Llŷn Peninsula which features beaches, bays and plenty of walking opportunities along the Llŷn Coastal Path. Looking further afield to the English countryside, the Peak District is awash with natural beauty with plenty of towns and villages to discover too.
Passengers that travel with Irish Ferries know that the holiday begins as soon as they step on board. And while things have been adapted for now, Ireland’s leading ferry operator says that ferry travel provides an already unique experience that is vastly different to air travel and is highlighting several key advantages of taking to the seas when the time is right.
Unlike when flying, passengers can of course avail of the unique benefit of enjoying clean fresh sea air and unbeatable views on outer decks, with ventilation and air conditioning systems on board also using just 100% fresh air.
Irish Ferries has introduced in-car check in, so that passengers can stay in the comfort and safety of their own car during check in. Where passport checks are in operation, passengers are asked to hold up passports from their car for review, limiting contact with staff.
Onboard with Irish Ferries, passengers can sail in space, with plenty of room inside, with clear marking and signage, easily allowing for social distancing. There is ample seating to accommodate passengers and the option of private cabin accommodation on cruise ferry services to both Britain and France.
Irish Ferries has also increased the frequency of onboard cleaning routines. There will be intensified sanitation and disinfection of all common touchpoints throughout ships. Each cabin is cleaned thoroughly after use, with a special device that eliminates viruses and other air and surface contaminants. This device is used in “Clean Room Technology” throughout the pharmaceutical sector and in some hospitals.
To further enhance safety of both passengers and crew, Irish Ferries has amended its food and beverage services on board, in its cafes, restaurants and in-room dining. And there are new protocols in place in public areas with crew and staff that are in direct contact with passengers wearing masks and gloves, and plexiglass at all till points. Hand sanitiser stations are widely available and cinemas, bars, shopping, Club Class lounges and kids soft play areas have been closed for now. However, to keep the family entertained, Video on Demand is available in all cabins on the France service.
Irish Ferries are advising passengers to bring face masks or face covering when travelling and to wear a face covering when moving around public spaces. These are now mandatory by French authorities when travelling to France.
Regardless of where you might like to travel to this summer, be assured, that Irish Ferries offers a safer way to get away, when the time is right and looks forward to welcoming passengers back onboard again soon.
However, this is limited to outdoors only and indoor activity/advice remains as it was in Step 1 until further announcements.
The Sport Northern Ireland update highlighted that:
- Groups of up to 10 are now permitted to take part in socially distanced outdoor training.
- No relaxation of restrictions is yet in place for indoor activity and as a result no indoor sports activity is permitted at this time.
- Resumption of outdoor sporting activity at Step 2 is entirely conditional on robust protocols being in place, communicated, fully understood and complied with by all participants. We would therefore urge a cautious approach.
Under the Northern Ireland Executive’s Pathway to Recovery, the following is therefore permitted:
- Outdoor activities involving small groups of less than 10 people during which it may be difficult to maintain social distancing but where contacts are brief (less than10 minutes).
RYANI has since updated and issued its Guidance for Step 2 and considerations of activity that could now take place.
The governing body continues to urge boaters to take a conservative approach to activities and to follow all public health advice in order to best help eliminate Covid-19. Guidance for access to indoors remains in Step 1 until subsequent announcements.
Irish Sailing is waiting to hear back from the Government's Sport Expert Group to see if mixed household crew (in a pod system) and using regular crew with effective contact tracing as the mitigating factor will be allowed.
Irish Sailing has submitted the proposal for Phase 3 & 4 of the Return to Sailing Scheme and hopes to have a response early next week, along with an indication of the Government’s revised latest Roadmap.
Although Government guidelines for organising children’s summer camps have been published it hasn’t specifically addressed any relaxation of social distancing measures.
A set of safety measures announced by Stena Line, given the potential easing of lockdown restrictions and the re-emergence of non-essential travel, is aimed at ensuring ferry travel is the safest form of public transport.
Social distancing, fog machines, fresh sea air inside the ships and the recommended wearing of face coverings, are all seen as key to reassuring customers about the future of ferry travel (see safety video) as countries reopen their borders in the coming weeks.
Stena Line’s ferries have played a vital role during the pandemic keeping supplies of food, medicines and equipment moving across Europe. As people look forward to being able to travel this summer, Stena Line has been receiving an increase in passenger bookings. In advance of the return of sea corridors reopening to tourist travel the company has been finalising extensive new safety measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 and ensure a safe and seamless journey:
- Easier social distancing - ferry travel is the only form of public transport where passengers can social distancing easily. Stena Line has undertaken risk assessments, which have capped the numbers of passengers on each crossing to guarantee adequate space.
- Fresh sea air is now being circulated into the air filtration systems on all ferries.
- New fog machines are being used to sanitise communal areas and cabins on the ferries and alongside the continuous cleaning routines being undertaken throughout the ships.
- From today, Monday 15th June, face coverings are recommended for all passengers and crew on Stena Line vessels, and in terminals, on all routes on the Irish Sea and the North Sea, where social distancing is difficult to achieve, such as in stairwells, lifts and in corridors.
“Ferry travel is the only mode of transport where you can social distance, so it is no surprise that we are now seeing an increase in bookings due to the expected reduction in lockdown restrictions. In advance of the return of international travel we now feel the time is right to tell people about our new anti-COVID-19 measures and reassure them that ferries provide the safest mode of transport for travel passengers and freight drivers. The safety of our passengers and crew is always a top priority for Stena Line.” Says Stena Line’s CEO Niclas Mårtensson.
As part of Stena Line’s safety plan to prevent the spread of the Covid-19, an extensive risk assessment identified three key stages of the customer journey to focus on:
A. During check-in at the Terminal.
B. While onboard the vessels.
C. During embarkation and disembarkation
“By providing the ability to social distance the whole journey, our big, bright and spacious ferries have plenty of fresh sea air, both inside and out, and offer the safest way to travel for people who want to take a break after the long lockdown” says Niclas Mårtensson, CEO of Stena Line.
Bosses of the ferry industry, have ruled out increasing their services between Ireland and France in the coming months and have even indicated that passenger numbers on their routes could be reduced to facilitate social distancing.
There had been speculation that ferries could receive a boost in passenger numbers as more people opt to travel by sea rather than by air over Covid-19 fears.
Skibbereen resident David Puttnam also told The Southern Star’s Coronavirus Podcast this week that the idea of another passenger ferry from Cork should probably be ‘looked at again’ in light of the number of people who are unlikely to use air travel in the foreseeable future.
But Brittany Ferries, who operate the Cork to Roscoff route, have already said that they have no plans to extend services.
‘The company is looking forward to welcoming passengers back onboard the Pont-Aven once it is in a position to re-open its Cork to Roscoff route,’ said a spokesperson.
They have already cancelled all passenger sailings from Ireland to France and Spain up to June 15th.
Christophe Mathleu, chief executive officer of Brittany Ferries, said that difficult decisions have to be made to ensure those services comply with WHO guidelines and our the company’s own safety protocols.
‘Passenger numbers will have to be considerably limited and several on board services will be subject to change to ensure they are safe but still enjoyable,’ he said.
The company’s decision earlier this year to close down its Cork to Santander route – after just two years – shocked many in the tourist industry.
For much more on this story effecting the Munster region, click here.
Operator Stena Line from next week will introduce the mandatory wearing of face coverings for passengers as distinct to Irish Ferries last month's advisory to don such health related attire, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The Covid-19 related measures are intended to safeguard both the health of passengers and crew in addition to ensure maximum safety to those travelling by ferry. Both operators have also issued information on passengers, bookings, amendments and cancellation policies in these times of Covid-19.
Stena Line has said from next Monday, 15 June, the wearing of face coverings will be mandatory whilst in ports or onboard their vessels though with exceptions.
Exceptions to this rule are children under the age of three and anyone with a breathing condition, illness or disability that prevents or hinders them from wearing a face covering.
As for those taking night sailings that arrive on the morning of Monday 15 June, face coverings will be required from departure the night before on Sunday, 14 June.
Likewise, Irish Ferries which too is constantly monitoring a rapidly evolving situation in relation to Covid-19 issued an information update of 29th April, which advised passengers must have a face mask / face covering when travelling with the Irish ferry company.
As part of Irish Ferries FAQ click here, the issue of masks according to the Irish authorities now recommend in the wearing a cloth face covering in situations where it is difficult to practice social distancing.
Additionally, it is now mandated by the French Authorities for passengers to wear a face mask when onboard ships in French waters and in Cherbourg port (with children under 11 years exempt).
As Afloat reported earlier today Irish Ferries W.B. Yeats returned to the Irish capital on completion of the first 'cruiseferry' operated Dublin-Cherbourg sailings of the summer which was to start in March but was delayed to the Covid situation. The service finally began on Tuesday with an overnight arrival to Cherbourg yesterday.
In the meantime up to this week, the year-round operated Ireland-France route was maintained during the winter and was extended into Spring. During these months the route was covered by the 'economy' ropax ferry Epsilon.
Further important travel information from the Irish Government's Dept. of Foreign Affairs is available here.
Ireland’s sailing community has hailed the wider return to sailing heralded by the start of Phase 2 of relaxing coronavirus lockdown restrictions from today, Monday 8 June.
And Irish Sailing has published a guideline document to all sailors and boaters, including those who have not yet done so, for getting back on the water.
But under the heading for transport and travel in the Government’s list of Phase 2 public health measures, it states: “The arrival of personal non-national maritime leisure vessels is banned (with exceptions such as ‘port in a storm’).”
The message is, for now, that cruising should keep local for the health and safety of all — and the hopeful further loosening of restrictions in three weeks’ time.
All are invited to tell their own Covid-19 story with their flags which will be flown from the masts of boats among Dun Laoghaire’s sailing community.
These boats will set sail in convoy on a day of solitary this August, when Ireland is set to emerge from the fifth and final phase of health restrictions.
Friday 10 July is the deadline to submit your flag and completed submission form c/o Sandra Kelly, Community Department, County Hall, Marine Road, Dún Laoghaire — and DLRCoCo has provided some handy tips to help you get started.
Following more easing of Covid-19 restrictions announced by the Northern Ireland Executive, plans are being made by Waterways Ireland to reopen its navigations north of the border — the Erne System, Lower Bann and on the Shannon-Erne Waterway — to boating from next Friday 29 May.
The cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways says it is working to roll out health and safety procedures and protocols to ensure the safe return of both staff and boaters to these navigations.
Private boaters undertaking short trips on the water, as permitted under the new restrictions, are reminded to proceed with caution as navigations and their facilities have not been fully maintained since lockdown began in late March.
“It will take time to reopen the above navigations,” Waterways Ireland said in a statement. “We expect they will reopen on May 29th.
“Waterways Ireland’s locks and service blocks will remain closed in line with the five-step roadmap to recovery [in Northern Ireland]. We recognise the situation is constantly changing.”
It added that updates prior to reopening will be made via marine notices, on the Waterways Ireland website and via social media channels.
The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) yesterday welcomed to the return of boating to Lough Erne with a list of recommendations to keep everyone safe on the water.
Customers of ferry operators have complained that outstanding payments are being deducted for trips that, due to travel restrictions, they are unable to take.
While ferries continue to sail between Ireland, the UK and France, both to maintain supply chains and cater for essential journeys, the Irish Government is advising against all non-essential travel "until further notice".
That puts leisure passengers with imminent sailings in a bind.
Last November, for example, customer Padraig Murphy says he booked June sailings to France with Irish Ferries for two adults and five children.
He paid a €100 deposit, with the balance of €1,413.50 due on April 23.
"When Covid hit, we contacted Irish Ferries on March 23 to see what the options were. We were advised that nothing had changed and they would contact us if there were any changes..."
"Clearly everything did change."