Displaying items by tag: Coronavirus
A group of Transition Year students stepped into a strange new world when they disembarked from a month at sea on a tall ship sail training voyage.
The eight teenagers arrived in Cork Harbour on Tuesday 7 April on the SV Tenacious, which had sailed since early March from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean — with little knowledge of how daily life has changed in Ireland in the intervening weeks.
Conor Galligan and Conor Walsh, for instance, both enjoy racing Lasers in Dun Laoghaire and Cork respectively, and are also qualified dinghy instructors hoping to put that training into practice this summer.
Charlie Kavanagh and Aiden Colbert are no strangers to sailing, either — the latter with cruising experience, while the former has sailed with his family.
Perhaps the best equipped was Sam Duncan, of the National Yacht Club, who joined a tall ship voyage last year with another charity — the Rona Sailing Project — which he enjoyed so much he was looking to expand his offshore miles while also qualifying as a dinghy instructor this season.
But while their prior experience on the water set them in good stead for a month on the high seas — honing essential seafaring skills along with 40 other crew — nothing could prepare them for what awaited as they landed in Cobh this week.
Concerns started to brew just days into their voyage as the scheduled host port in Greece was closed to visiting boats under strict measures against Covid-19.
Parents of the young crew, two of whom have underlying health conditions, were relieved by Jubilee Sailing Trust’s immediate decision to return to the UK, via the Azores and Cork Harbour — with no shore leave granted for the safety of the crew, who were essentially coccooned from the pandemic throughout.
The last leg of that journey, traversing the North Atlantic from the Azores to Ireland, presented a genuine challenge to the young sailors, with three days of gale-force winds to contend with.
But a different challenge faced them on arrival in Cork in Tuesday, when the eight Irish crew were said to be taken aback by the ‘new normal’ of social distancing and the shutdown of the economy.
Robbie Byrne from Greystones said: “It was a big shock coming back to Ireland today and seeing people wearing masks and everyone being told keep their distance and of course driving home, the roads were empty, there was no one out.”
The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.
In a statement, the cross-border body for Ireland’s inland navigations said: “We are aware that Easter is normally a time that our boating community look forward to the start of the new season, when colleagues meet up, and plan many excursions for the year ahead.
“During the Covid-19 crisis such interactions will not be possible. Our navigations have been effectively closed since 30 March in order to comply with Government guidelines.
“Operational staff, water patrollers and lock-keepers are not available to undertake lock operations on any of our navigable waterways.
“We are continuing to undertake essential management of water levels, and any emergency works that may arise, under strict social distancing protocols. We ask all our boaters to continue to observe the regulations.
Waterways Ireland reminds users of its navigations that:
- Boating activity on the water is suspended until further notice;
- Travel in excess of 2km to check on vessels moored on the navigation is prohibited until further notice;
- Winter mooring facilities have been extended until 30 April in order to ease the pressure on our boating community.
- Boaters do not need to travel to move their vessel;
- Electricity and water services have been reconnected following completion of assessments of health and safety issues in the aftermath of the recent flooding;
- Normal pump-out facilities are available for boaters. Owners must ensure that travel to pump-out facilities must be undertaken in a responsible manner, minimising the amount of essential movement out on the water;
- Canoeing, kayaking, or any paddling activities on the navigable waterways is suspended until further notice;
- Fishing is suspended on our waterways until further notice;
- Open-water swimming is suspended in our waterways until further notice; and
- All Waterways Ireland service blocks are closed in accordance with Government guidelines.
Towpaths remain open and accessible for local exercise, but Waterways Ireland asks the public to limit their use, and only use towpaths which are in close vicinity (within 2km) of your home. It also calls on people to:
- Observe social distancing protocols - keep a distance of at least 2m (6 feet) away from other people;
- Use the towpaths for brief physical exercise only;
- Limit use – do not take part in physical activity on towpaths which have the potential for large numbers, where social distancing cannot be observed comfortably;
- Don't meet up with other groups;
- Stay in your family household group;
- Stay local to your home (within 2km);
- As towpaths in some places can be narrow, when you pass someone, please make sure you use the full width of the towpath, keep moving, and stand aside to allow others to pass, in single file, when necessary;
- If you can't avoid passing a moored boat please keep as far away from it as possible and pass quickly by;
- Be mindful of others and act always with consideration and with respect; and
- Observe all health etiquettes when on the towpaths.
“We are aware that restriction of services and facilities impacts on the ability of users to enjoy our wonderful waterways,” the organisation says.
“All measures are being taken to support the national effort in keeping people safe, protecting our staff, colleagues, partners and everyone who visits, or lives on and around our canals and river navigations.
“We will continually review such measures in light of direction and advice from Government and health professionals and any decisions on service provision will be communicated.”
It added: “We ask all our stakeholders, families and colleagues to continue to be safe during the crisis. Please look after each other and enjoy the Easter break at home.”
The Irish Marine Federation (IMF) has joined a call by European boating industry associations for support from the EU to address the Covid-19 outbreak and its profound effects on the sector.
Eighteen associations have signed a policy paper from the European Boating Industry (EBI) which outlines a series of suggested responses “to ensure that companies survive the crisis and can secure jobs” — jobs which, it says, number some 280,000 in 32,000 companies across the EU.
These responses include the introduction of a voucher scheme for tourism activities, open borders for goods and deliveries, as well as a risk-based approach to restarting marinas, production and tourism in anticipation of the summer season.
EBI also calls for “strong communication from the European Commission and national governments to inspire consumer confidence in the safety and attractiveness of maritime tourism”.
Regarding the local situation in Ireland, the IMF says it has opened channels of communication with the HSE with relation to the marine sphere “and the many issues that exist within our industry”.
And following its call for marine industry staff to be recognised as essential workers, the federation refers to its response from the office of Business Minister Heather Humphreys with a guidance list of services deemed essential.
The IMF recommends that any specific queries in relation to Covid-19 and measures to mitigate its impact on the maritime transport sector should be sent to [email protected]
“I think it is fair today that the business situation is foremost in all our minds and what we can do to continue trading, in whatever capacity, to keep the light on over the door until we come out the other said,” said chairman Paal Janson in a letter to IMF members.
In the meantime, the IMF says it is in regular contact with industry associations, as well as marina owners and operators, the world over “in an effort to understand the issues that marine industries in other countries are going through and any relevance that may have to us in Ireland”.
Janson added: “The federation will continue to work on [members’] behalf and do whatever it can to support its members and help them through this difficult time.”
The EBI policy paper is attached below.
The RNLI’s chief executive, Mark Dowie, said he will take a 50% pay cut to help the storm caused by the coronavirus.
And the charity that saves lives at sea is also planning to put some 30% of staff on furlough over the next few weeks.
In a statement, Dowie said: “The coronavirus outbreak is testing many charities and emergency services across the UK and Ireland, and the RNLI is no different.
“We have some reserves in place to deal with short, sharp shocks to our financial situation. However, we are all facing unprecedented times and we have seen an immediate impact not just on our frontline services, but also on our ability to fundraise which is already having an impact on our finances.
“We don’t know how long the coronavirus situation will affect us and we need to take what action we can – now and in the next weeks and months – to make sure our charity is in the best position possible to weather this storm.
“This is my watch and it’s my responsibility to make sure the RNLI is here to save lives at sea in the future.”
Dowie confirmed that the RNLI has paused its toning replacement of equipment and buildings, such as station rebuilds and building new lifeboats.
“We’re also looking at new ways to fundraise online and on social media. I’ve also made the decision to reduce my salary by 50% from now until this crisis has passed.
‘Even in these most testing of times our dedicated lifeboat crew continue to ensure our vital search and rescue service remains on service across the UK and Ireland’
“Everyone in the RNLI – supporters, volunteers, staff – are all going above and beyond to get us through these challenging times and I want to make my contribution to the charity I love, beyond my day-to-day work leading this amazing lifesaving service.
“We are also planning to put, initially, around 30% of staff on furlough over the next few weeks.
“As a charity, we have to take a pragmatic approach in these difficult times and make sure we’re focusing our supporters’ donations on maintaining our lifesaving service for generations to come.
“We will be topping up all those on furlough to full pay during April and then in May, to 80% pay if that is above the £2,500 cap set by the [UK] government.”
Dowie added: “I want to pay tribute to all our supporters, volunteers and staff. Even in these most testing of times our dedicated lifeboat crew, along with all those who support them, continue to ensure our vital search and rescue service remains on service across the UK and Ireland, ready to save every one in trouble at sea.
“They need people’s support more than ever in these unprecedented times.”
The RNLI has already paused the roll-out of its seasonal lifeguard service across Great Britain and Northern Ireland in response to the UK government’s instructions for people to stay at home.
RNLI shops and museums have been closed since 23 March and, with local fundraisers unable to hold events or collections, the charity’s annual community-based fundraising campaign, Mayday, has had to be scaled back.
Instead, the charity is looking at ways to replace cancelled events with online fundraising at rnli.org/mayday
The letter urges the angling community to follow the guidance provided and to keep up to date with the latest advice from the Public Health Agency (PHA) in Northern Ireland and the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland.
In her letter dated Friday 3 April, McMahon notes the guidance from governments north and south regarding the circumstances where members of the public may leave their homes at this time.
“One of these is to take exercise, either alone or with other members of their household. The only forms of exercise permitted [in the UK at this time] are walking, running or cycling,” she says.
“Angling, like many other forms of recreation, is not specifically mentioned as a form of exercise, therefore we would urge you not to go fishing at this time – this includes Loughs Agency’s permit waters on the River Finn, River Foyle and at the Greenbraes.
“We thank those anglers who are already adhering to this advice and we will continue to review government guidance as it is issued.
“While we hope these restrictions won’t last long, we must all do what is asked of us by government and work together to fight this pandemic.
“This is about saving lives and supporting our healthcare systems and frontline staff. The agency is encouraged by private fisheries closing during this pandemic and heeding government advice.”
The statement from the Loughs Agency comes after Stormont’s fisheries minister Edwin Poots closed all state-owned angling waters in Northern Ireland, with those owned by NI Water following suit.
Loughs Agency offices remain closed but staff are working remotely where possible and anglers can engage by phone or email.
As Derek Evans writes in his latest angling column for The Irish Times, there are as yet no specific restrictions on angling in the Republic, but permit and licence sales have been paused, and “those intending to fish must adhere to the latest precautionary advice on coronavirus”.
Sailing clubs and centres in England are already beginning to benefit from the £22 billion grant and business rates package recently announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the RYA says.
Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure industry, such as RYA-affiliated sailing clubs and recognised training centres, will be eligible for a one-off grant payment dependant on their rateable value.
Those with a rateable value of less than £15,000 will receive £10,000 and those clubs with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will be provided with a grant of £25,000.
Business rates in England have also been suspended for the next 12 months — though devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland set their own rates, and their measures if any may involve a reduction rather than a suspension.
It is understood that local authorities may be contacting businesses either via letter or by email this week. As the clubhouse is usually the registered business address for sailing clubs, this may cause a delay in receiving notification due to the current travel restrictions.
The RYA suggests that sailing clubs and training centres should contact their local authority and ask for any communication to be sent via email instead, or for any essential letters to be temporarily re-directed to a more convenient address.
It’s business as usual at the Irish Maritime Development Office — albeit remotely for now to protect employees, clients and stakeholders amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The IMDO says it is firmly committed to supporting the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Marine Institute and the maritime industry, including the ports and shipping companies, during this turbulent period.
For queries on how the IMDO can assist, get in touch via email [email protected] and you will be put in touch with the right person who can help.
Meanwhile, the IMDO urges everyone to please continue to take every precaution necessary to protect yourself, your family and loved ones, and anyone you interact with.
The confirmation comes from Edwin Poots, Stormont’s Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, who said: “The message is clear to our anglers, many of whom are in the older age group, stay safe – stay home.”
While NI Water supports the minister’s stance for angling waters under its purview, the Loughs Agency has not yet moved to close the Foyle and Carlingford areas to local anglers.
But it said anglers, angling clubs and fishery owners in advised to adhere to UK Government and Public Health Agency advice and new regulations under which no one may leave their home without ‘reasonable excuse’, such as shopping for food and medicine, or travel for key work.
Water Safety Ireland has warned that children are at greater risk of drowning during the current period of Covid-19 restrictions.
The organisation points out that over half a million primary school-age children are confined to an area within 2km of their home.
And in many cases, any number of streams, rivers, canals, ponds, slurry and rainwater collection tanks, bog holes, wells, lakes and the seashore can be found within this distance.
“From our research, six out of 10 drownings occur at inland water sites and eight out of 10 drownings occur close to the victim’s home,” Water Safety Ireland says.
“It is essential that parents maintain constant, responsible and uninterrupted supervision on their children to ensure they don’t gain access to these real hazards.”
The water safety charity added that while children are at home, families can take the opportunity to teach them how to stay safe near water by using the free resources available online from the PAWS (Primary Aquatics Water Safety) programme.
In an emergency, call 112 and ask for the coastguard.
British boaters are being encouraged to support their local boating networks wherever possible during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
As Boating Business reports, the RYA is asking people to think again before cancelling payments to sailing clubs, marinas, class associations and other marine-related bodies to support them through the lockdown period.
“During these hugely challenging times people are looking at where they can cut costs,” said RYA sport development manager Alistair Dickson.
“However, we would urge boaters to think carefully about whether they need to cancel direct debits, subscriptions or other payments as many organisations will be depending on this support to them through this difficult period.”
In Northern Ireland, the RYANI says it will “endeavour to keep meaningful engagement with all clubs and organisations” as it briefs Stormont on the challenges facing the NI boating community and calls for inclusion in Executive support packages.