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Displaying items by tag: Covid 19

Authorities have confirmed that crew of privately owned leisure craft arriving in Ireland who do not have a COVID-19 vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test less than 72 hours old will not be permitted to land.

Dun Laoghaire Marina general manager Paal Janson sought clarity from Dublin Port’s immigration office after being contacted separately by two yachts on passage to Dublin — one with a crew member without a vaccination certificate, the other having crew members with older negative PCR tests.

In response, Sergeant Sharon Burke of An Garda Síochána’s Dublin Port Immigration Unit confirmed that “without a Vaccination Certificate or a Negative PCR Test taken within the previous 72 hours prior to arrival, those crew members are not…permitted to land in the State”.

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The Irish Marine Federation has confirmed with the Government that restrictions against visiting vessels in Irish ports remain for the time being.

Last week Afloat.ie reported on contradictory advice that emerged in the wake of the latest update to maritime travel restrictions amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic from the Department of Transport.

Following that update on Wednesday (23 June), Irish Sailing said its understanding was that “the previous ban on foreign leisure vessels travelling to Irish ports has been lifted”. As of Wednesday morning 30 June, the statement remains on the Irish Sailing website.

This view was not shared by all in the marine industry, and in response the Irish Marine Federation (IMF) says it was “contacted by a number of members who were uneasy at the apparent downgrading of the ‘essential travel only’ advice currently in force”.

The IMF sought clarification from the Department of Transport, which has since confirmed that “there has been no change” and the current restrictions on travel to Ireland remain in place until at least 18 July.

“The IMF and its affiliated body, the Irish Marina Operators Association, have been keenly watching the travel situation develop throughout this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and our members continue to suffer the financial loss of foreign leisure vessels excluded from coastal harbours and marinas,” the federation added.

“Nobody is more eager to see a safe and responsible return to marine tourism than our members are. We strongly recommend however that Government and public health advice is adhered to, as is clearly set out, and this is the only source of information used when assessing the risks and feasibility of international travel.”

Meanwhile, Afloat.ie has received its own confirmation from the Department of Transport that no cruise ships are permitted to enter any Irish port or anchor in Irish waters.

“While this decision will be kept under review, there are no plans at present for the resumption of cruises into Ireland,” the department added. “Government advice continues to be that only essential travel is to be undertaken in accordance with health authorities’ guidance.

“The focus at present is on minimising the risk of infection across all sectors. Any decision regarding the resumption of cruise tourism into Ireland will be based on the advice from public health officials.”

Contradictory advice has emerged in the wake of the latest update to maritime travel restrictions from the Department of Transport.

Following yesterday’s (Wednesday 23 June) update to Marine Notice No 16 of 2021, which can be downloaded below, Irish Sailing has said its understanding is that “the previous ban on foreign leisure vessels travelling to Irish ports has been lifted”.

However, this understanding is not shared by all — with at least one marina operator telling Afloat.ie that their business will hold off on lifting any COVID-19 travel restrictions until Government guidelines explicitly allow.

At time of writing, Government advice remains to “avoid non-essential travel” until at least 18 July.

Afloat.ie has contacted the Department of Transport for comment.

A wildlife charity has urged the public to take care when disposing of face masks after it’s alleged a puffin became entangled in a mask and died.

According to The Irish Times, the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) said it was sent the distressing image it shared on its Instagram, showing the seabird with a disposable face mask wrapped around its face and underneath a wing.

Birdwatch Ireland says it has also received reports of birds caught in recklessly discarded masks, though it is not clear how widespread the problem may be.

But the IWT says that even a small number of cases adds to “the issue of marine litter and plastic waste that we know presents serious issues for wildlife”.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

The Ocean Race Europe has partnered with Quirónprevención of the Quirónsalud group for the design and implementation of a strict COVID-19 prevention protocol for the first edition of the race, which is scheduled to start from Lorient in France on Saturday 29 May.

A multidisciplinary team of health professionals — who are experts in disease prevention — have designed a plan that aims to reduce the risk of an outbreak during the course of a regatta that will see 12 teams from nine countries racing to four European cities over a three-week period.

“This is a very challenging time to be organising live sport across different countries,” said race director Phil Lawrence. “The safety of our sailors, their support crews and all those working to make this event happen is of primary importance.

“With the support and expertise of Quirónprevención, we have been able to implement a plan that minimises the risk from Covid-19 and allows us to conduct a safer event.”

Fernando Camino, general director of Quirónprevención, added: “This first edition of The Ocean Race Europe can be a template for many other sports competitions that have seen their activity stopped due to the pandemic.

“We must convey the message that by doing things well and complying with a strict protocol of technical and sanitary measures, it is possible to reactivate the celebration of events and all the employment and economic activity behind it.”

The schedule and logistics of the event have been analysed by the professionals at Quirónprevención, who have prepared a series of recommendations and operational guidelines.

In addition, a team of health workers from Quirónprevención will be on site during The Ocean Race Europe in each of the stopover cities, ensuring compliance with a schedule of COVID-19 tests for sailing crew, shore support and organisation staff, with the goal of reducing the risk of transmission and conducting a safe event.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

Anyone wishing to bring a yacht into an Irish port from abroad will have to wait a little longer as the official line remains “essential travel only”.

Despite last week’s slight relaxation of movement restrictions within Ireland — with people now allowed to travel within their own county or within 20km of home if crossing a county border — there has been no change for boaters hoping to sail here from abroad.

And indeed, the new mandatory hotel quarantine (MHQ) measures may further complicate matters.

As far as one prominent Dublin marina is concerned, there are no berths open for foreign vessels under the current level of COVID-19 restrictions.

“In general, as we in Dun Laoghaire Marina do not allow quarantining aboard at the marina, we are politely declining any requests for visits from foreign-owned boats,” general manager Paal Janson says.

While the Department of Transport “are happy for the marina to take responsibility for issuing or even collecting passenger locator forms”, DL Marina management have declined to take on this responsibility, he adds.

Other ports may have different arrangements, and interested parties are recommended to seek written consent from the relevant harbour/port authority. “It may be no harm to receive advice from [email protected],” Janson adds.

But as the official line remains ‘essential travel only’, he is of the opinion that “holidaying yachtsmen are not high on the list of priorities” for Transport officials for the time being.

“The feeling is once cruise ships are allowed into Irish ports and harbours again, then foreign yachts will be similarly welcomed back,” Janson says.

“I think now the focus should shift towards allowing people who are vaccinated to travel freely,” Janson says. “The issue of vaccination passports, harmonisation of travel within EU states, etc. must now be considered and a pathway back to normality be created.

“The end of this unprecedented pandemic is close at hand and we need now to be looking at all avenues for the resumption of travel, sport and business.”

Published in Irish Marinas
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Cancelling the Tokyo Olympics “remains an option” if the pandemic spread is not brought under control.

As the Guardian reports, those were the comments of Toshihiro Nikai, general secretary of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic party, in a TV interview that was as of his morning (Saturday 17 April) yet to be aired.

Nikai’s statement is at odds with his government’s insistence that the Games will go ahead in a little over three months’ time, on 23 July.

But public sentiment is not so clear-cut, with nearly two-fifths saying the Games should be cancelled, and nearly a third supporting a further postponement — an option the International Olympic Committee has already ruled out.

While no overseas visitors will be allowed to enter to be spectators at this year’s Olympics, the event is set to being thousands of athletes — including Ireland’s qualified sailors Annalise Murphy, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove — together along with media, sponsors and officials for the two weeks of competition.

Hosting such numbers “domestic, political and economic purposes — ignoring scientific and moral imperatives — is contradictory to Japan’s commitment to global health and human security,” several medical experts have said.

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Olympic
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The Government's phased easing of some Covid-19 restrictions during the month of April was welcome news but there was also some disappointment expressed in boating circles over a lack of clarity contained in the announcement that makes it difficult to plan the season, especially the staging of major summer regattas.

The Government aims to continue its cautious approach, gradually easing restrictions, while a substantial level of the population is vaccinated during April, May and June, after which, it should be safe to reopen society more widely.

In his address, the Taoiseach used the phrase ‘distance sports' to describe a sporting activity that was permitted but what does this mean for sailing, a low risk, outdoor, no-contact sport?

In a response to a query from Afloat, a Sport Ireland spokesman said 'At present, these are activities that can take place on a socially distanced basis and take place between a maximum of two households'.

SB20 Sportsboat racing on Dublin Bay pre-COVID Photo: AfloatSB20 Sportsboat one-design racing on Dublin Bay pre-COVID Photo: Afloat

Single-handers

An interpretation of this means that single-handers, double handers and crews from two households can go sailing if they can 'distance' themselves.

But 'distance' does not extend to competition at this point, it refers only to private social sailing and it would exclude yachts with large crews from different households. So, Like golf or tennis, two parties can have a social game. Likewise, two individuals can have a recreational sail.

The spokesman said Sport Ireland has been in touch with the various National Governing Bodies, including Irish Sailing, on this matter.

Overall then, what we know is: 

From 12th April

  • travel within your own county or within 20km of your home if crossing county boundaries

From 26th April:

  • Outdoor sports facilities can reopen and sailing clubs may remain open.
  • ‘Distance’ Sailing activities may take place between a maximum of two households
  • School-aged children may resume training using the pod system (pods of 15)
  • No matches or events may take place (other than exempted events)

By any interpretation, this does not appear to allow for cruiser-racer sailing, except for small crew numbers on board. Clearly, this could have a major impact on the most popular aspect of the sport, for early summer at least.

Even though we know that there is little difference between sailing in training and racing modes, the sport is reliant on the not so small matter of lockdown measures easing from Level Five to Level Two (when racing is permitted) but, as widely anticipated, this did not materialise in this week's announcement.

Still, on Dublin Bay, DBSC and ISORA, race organisers are both aiming for May starts in 'some form', subject to guidelines. In June, the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race and the Sovereign's Cup at Kinsale are due to get underway.

Reduced Crews?

It raises the question, that if this situation is to be considered the norm for the next two to three months, then sailing should be looking at reduced crews for racing in the future, as they are doing in the UK? Such a move was previously explored on Afloat here

This weekend, for example, one design keelboats are sailing in the Solent for the first time this year and boats that normally allow five are only taking four crew. Likewise, cruisers crew numbers in the UK are limited. 

The first race starts this weekend, the JOG Race, and below is one of the sailing instructions:

  • 17.1 Crew numbers for this race are limited to a maximum of 6, irrespective of a family group or other considerations. This is a maximum and skippers may limit their own crew in line with social distancing and other requirements.

Coincidentally, the first RORC event also starts this weekend; long coastal day races over three weekends, with a maximum of 80% of normal crew numbers.

By reducing crew numbers it could help to comply with the 'distance sport' ruling and give sailing room to negotiate a return to competition because there is no way nine people sitting out on a 35-foot cruiser will meet these criteria.

The Department of Transport confirmed today (Friday 5 March) that the French Government will no longer require proof of a negative COVID test result from hauliers travelling on direct maritime routes from Ireland to France.

French legislation has been amended with immediate effect in light of the very low positivity rates of COVID-19 among commercial vehicle drivers, and the move is in line with the EU Green Lanes recommendations.

Proof of a negative test result will still be required for drivers travelling from Great Britain to France or the Netherlands, and therefore any hauliers travelling from Ireland via the UK landbridge route to enter France or the Netherlands must still have proof of a negative test result.

Proof of a negative test result is also still required for travel to Germany. Drivers intending on travelling on such routes may continue to obtain a test here in Ireland at existing testing facilities (or in Great Britain).

In accordance with EU Green Lane recommendations, Ireland will continue to maintain a policy of exempting essential transport workers not showing symptoms of COVID-19 from quarantine and testing requirements when entering Ireland.

The Department of Transport says the Government will continue to encourage all EU Member States to follow this policy also in the interests keeping supply chains open within the Single Market. This is particularly important for the continued movement of medical supplies and essential goods into the country, it added.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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It's March 1st and depending on who you talk to there is either tremendous optimism that the 2021 Irish summer sailing season can get underway as scheduled or alternatively, the ongoing pandemic will force us to navigate a stop-start season like we did last year.

Certainly, with an estimated 82% of the population vaccinated by the sixth month of 2021, the hope is it could be full steam ahead. Some pundits say such a timeframe will, unfortunately, be just too late for some early fixtures that are now 'fifty-fifty'. Others predict the season will get away alright but not until June. 

Despite the unpredictability of the challenges, ICRA Commodore Richard Colwell told Afloat this weekend, he is hopeful that the season ahead will be a good one even if there might be difficulties early on.

Other regatta organisers say they are much more confident of regattas going ahead than they were even two or three weeks ago, such is the changing scenario but there is no doubt confusing messages and lack of clarity is raising the ire of a weary nation.

The Government’s revised plan published earlier in the week focuses on the phased return of schools and childcare. There is little change to the published five levels of the ‘Living with Covid Plan’. You can read the full Government update here

Ireland remains under current Level 5 restrictions until 5th April at the earliest when Government has stated that the “staggered start of easing of other areas of restriction with a focus on outdoor activities including sport” may be considered.

Organisers of big yacht racing events have made plans to be COVID compliant, including Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta that will be split over two weekends in July Photo: AfloatOrganisers of big yacht racing events have made plans to be COVID compliant, including Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta that will be split over two weekends in July Photo: Afloat

Mary O'Connor, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, has called on the government to produce "a detailed roadmap" on the reopening of sports so that their 81 national governing bodies can make plans for a return "in a safe manner". In sailing's case that would certainly make a lot of sense both for volunteer organisers and competitors alike.

Clubs planning major regattas – often a year or more in the making – are again faced with impossible decisions. 

Already, May's Scottish Series on the Clyde has been reformatted in a bid to cope with restrictions. Irish boats face quarantine requirements if they travel.

ISORA’s new early-season cruiser-racer fixture along the Dublin coast was cancelled in January's lockdown restrictions Photo: Afloat

A new ISORA 'Early Season Series' originally planned for January was to continue the offshore's body's successful 2020 coastal racing out of Dun Laoghaire Harbour. However, the current lockdown put paid to those plans, leaving ISORA boss Peter Ryan to reschedule for later in 2021.

The 2021 Irish Youth Sailing National Championships planned for April has moved out to October at Royal Cork Yacht Club.

June's Bangor Town Regatta has been scrubbed entirely on Belfast Lough

Buds of the new season are, nevertheless starting to appear. This weekend and last weekend's warm westerlies on Dublin Bay, the country's biggest boating centre, showed plenty of activity out from Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Solo sailing or sailing in pods is proving popular with RS Aeros, four Fireballs, two foiling Waszps, a GP14 as well as a number of sailing cruisers all enjoying some recreational sailing and boating. 

The National Yacht Club lift-in of sailing cruisers and keelboats is currently going ahead on April 9th and so is the Royal St. George on April 10th, both key signs of a determination to get 2021 underway. 

In the latest Commodore’s Update from Howth Yacht ClubPaddy Judge has outlined its plans for a hopeful restart to sailing if restrictions allow from April.

2020 DBSC Turkey Shoot and 2021 Spring Chicken Series racing fell to Covid-19 on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat2020 DBSC Turkey Shoot and 2021 Spring Chicken Series racing fell to Covid-19 on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat

Dublin Bay Sailing Club, the umbrella organisation that runs racing for all four waterfront clubs in a combined fleet of 250 sailing cruisers and dinghies and 1,200 members, is scheduled to start on Saturday, April 24th. New Commodore Ann Kirwan has the unenviable job of trying to prepare for a season that includes the significant cost of laying over 20 marks across the bay and preparing for a first race while at the same time trying to keep an eye on transitions between Government COVID levels, where there will be ‘amendments’ published, based on the most recent medical advice at the time.

Dun Laoghaire Laser sailors racing inside the town's harbour in 2020. It looks like the single handed DBSC class will get a further boost this summer thanks to the continuing threat of COVID-19.Dun Laoghaire Laser sailors racing inside the town's harbour in 2020. It looks like the single-handed DBSC class will get a further boost this summer thanks to the continuing threat of COVID-19 Photo: Afloat

The question is will Ireland possibly go from Level 5 to Level 2 from April 5th to April 24th, a scenario that would allow the first DBSC race of 2021 get underway on schedule?

Either way, it will be another altered season with hospitality and clubhouses not scheduled to open till mid-June. Certainly, the Government Advisory in operation against all non-essential international travel will impact events such as Dun Laoghaire's staging of the Laser 4.7 World Championships planned for August.

DBSC was a bellwether in 2020, achieving a remarkably full programme in 2020 when Pandemic Regulations permitted, a feat that led to the club picking up the Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year Award.

Certainly, if DBSC gets underway it will provide great hope to other race and regatta organisers such as June's Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, O'Leary Insurance's Sovereign's Cup in Kinsale and July's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, where they have already put in place pandemic restriction measures to reduce numbers. 

Increasingly though it looks like international travel restrictions will kerb UK visitors to the 2021 Irish regatta circuit.

Keith Miller’s Yamaha 36 Andante from Kilmore Quay is one fo ten Irish yachts registered for August’s Fastnet Race where COVID protocols are likely Photo: AfloatKeith Miller’s Yamaha 36 Andante from Kilmore Quay is one fo ten Irish yachts registered for August’s Fastnet Race where COVID protocols are likely Photo: Afloat

In the UK, RORC has announced it expects to return to overnight offshore racing and the London club is planning a return to its Spring Series on the Solent in April.

But for now, even for events as late as West Cork Calves Week in August or the ICRA Nationals in September, the advice of Afloat's WM Nixon given last December still rings true; Irish Sailing Fixtures for 2021? The Best Plan is to Keep Planning.

There will be updates from regattas organisers at next weekend's ICRA conference. More here

If you have any observations or queries, please email Afloat and we will do our best to clarify any of the Government’s guidelines.

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