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Displaying items by tag: COVID19

Following yesterday’s update on the upcoming easing of Level 5 restrictions on waterways in the Republic, Waterways Ireland has issued an advisory on access to navigations and availability of services in Northern Ireland.

As in the rest of the island of Ireland, all Waterways Ireland locks and service blocks remain closed on the Lower Bann Navigation, the Erne System and the section of the Shannon-Erne Waterway within Northern Ireland.

Local area access to jetties and moorings is in accordance with Northern Ireland Executive guidance.

Pump-out facilities are available for use, but 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.

When on jetties, Waterways Ireland urges awareness of other users; wait or move aside to allow others to pass at a safe distance.

Waterways Ireland says it will continually review such measures in light of direction and advice from the NI Executive and health professionals.

The cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways added: “If we all continue to observe government guidance, follow advice to limit use, and strictly observe social distancing, together we can combat this pandemic — and be able to enjoy getting back out on or by our waterways when we've beaten it.”

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Waterways Ireland is advising all masters of vessels and water users that, in line with Irish Government restrictions, much of its network of inland waterways will open for navigation within one’s own home county from Monday 12 April.

However, all locks and bridges on the Shannon Navigation, Shannon-Erne Waterway, Royal Canal, Grand Canal, Barrow Line and Barrow Navigation remain closed, as do all Waterways Ireland service blocks.

And the easing of restrictions only applies to waterways with the Republic of Ireland, as the NI Executive sets its own rules for waterways within Northern Ireland.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the winter mooring period has been extended on the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterway until Friday 30 Apri.

When the Government announces Level 4 restrictions, Waterways Ireland will open locks and bridges on the Shannon from 9am to 3pm daily and on the Shannon–Erne Waterway between 9am and 5pm. Service blocks and other on-shore services will also be available for use.

When Ireland moves to Level 3, Waterways Ireland will open locks and bridges at normal hours on all navigations.

Previous advisories for those using canal towpaths remain in place, with people encouraged to limit their use and stay within their home county.

Published in Inland Waterways
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British Marine has said recent guidance issued by the UK Government confirms that canal boats and other vessels in England are, in its view, eligible for COVID-19 recovery grants.

The Restart Grants were announced earlier this month by Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rushi Sunak, and are issued by local authorities in England.

“This confirmation means that accommodation providers, such as vessels and canal boats, should be eligible for a one-off grant of up to £18,000 to support them throughout the ongoing pandemic and the subsequent restrictions on trading,” British Marine said.

The grant is exclusively for businesses which pay business rates, with the exact value of the grant determined by the businesses’ rateable value:

  1. Businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value of exactly £15,000 or under on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £8,000.
  2. Businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value over £15,000 and less than £51,000 on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £12,000.
  3. Businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 or over on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £18,000.

British Marine advises its members to contact their local authority to discuss their eligibility. Members can also visit British Marine’s COVID-19 microsite for the latest information.

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The Department of Transport has confirmed limited exemptions for maritime crews from mandatory hotel quarantine for those entering the State from high-risk countries, which comes into effect from tomorrow, Friday 26 March.

As detailed in Marine Notice No 16 of 2021 (which can be downloaded below), maritime crew are considered to be in the course of their work until they reach their home, having completed their duties on board.

It is recommended that seafarers arriving to Ireland to join a ship have in their possession evidence such as joining instructions from their employer or crewing agency.

In addition, it is recommended that seafarers leaving a ship abroad to return to Ireland are in possession of their seafarer’s discharge book that has been appropriately signed off by the ship as proof they have just completed their time aboard a vessel and are returning immediately home.

Another exemption is for anyone classed as an international transport workers, defined as a person who holds a valid Annex 3 Certificate in accordance with the Communication from the EU Commission on the implementation of the Green Lanes under the guidance for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and ensure services.

While maritime crew are generally exempt from the travel restriction requirements, this does not extend to crew involved in the operation of pleasure craft not engaged in trade, as such journeys are considered non-essential.

Any crew arriving in Ireland working aboard such a craft are required to adhere to all of the relevant travel restrictions as appropriate, including completion of a passenger locator form, pre-departure RT-PCR test taken 72 hours prior to arrival and mandatory hotel quarantine where applicable. Breach of these legal obligations is an offence.

Further information in relation to travel restrictions in Ireland is available from gov.ie.

Owners/operators of international ferries serving Ireland are legally required to inform passengers of their obligations in relation to travel restrictions currently in place in Ireland.

They are also required to check each passenger has evidence of a negative/not-detected result from a RT-PCR test taken 72 hours prior to arrival in the State and to deny boarding to the passenger if such evidence is not produced.

In addition, there is a now a requirement to ensure that any passenger subject to mandatory hotel quarantine has made the necessary booking in advance of travel and to deny boarding if a relevant passenger cannot produce such evidence.

Masters are also requested to make on-board announcements detailing the legal requirement for passengers to complete the passenger locator form before disembarking and to ask passengers to have the form ready for collection by immigration officers.

Published in Ferry
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The RYANI has broadly welcomed the news of easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland from 1 April, as announced last week by First Minister Arlene Foster.

The sailing and boating body saidL: “This is very welcome news and follows on from engagement with the Minister of Communities, who has continued to be an advocate for sport and outdoor activity.

“Our understanding is that this will include further easing of restrictions for boating activity, namely around venue access.

“We still await the issuing of the regulations and guidance from the department to understand implications across the boating community in full."

Full guidance is currently pending, but the RYANI has summarised the position as it understands:

  • Updated Regulations are yet to be laid in order to confirm venues etc that may reopen from 1 April.
  • In the absence of the regulations, affiliated boat clubs will be able to reopen outdoor facilities from 1 April. However, there will be stringent protocols required, including very limited numbers.
  • Sailing, windsurfing and powerboating as individual, single household/bubble recreational activity will be permitted from 1 April.
  • Activity with two different households is permitted only where 2m social distancing can be adhered to at all times and with a maximum 10 people.
  • SportNI/Department for Communities will be briefing national governing bodies in coming days of the phases for outdoor sports, including more detailed guidance.
  • The current sub-phases under Step 2 will move from recreational through to training and potentially competition.
  • Once received, RYANI will be working to create guidance for clubs, centres and the wider boating community and we will share this as soon as practically possible.

“Although this announcement is welcome and further details are to follow, our current guidance remains in place, where club and other watersports facilities must remain closed,” the RYANI adds.

“We appreciate this will raise a large number of questions and will work to ensure appropriate guidance is issued at the earliest possible opportunity in order to allow you to make informed decisions.”

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In the south-east ferryport of Rosslare, serious questions have been asked over the numbers of passengers arriving and departing and the amount of screening being undertaken to prevent any further spread of Covid-19.

Last week images, writes Wexford People, were circulated of a convoy of caravans at Rosslare Europort, apparently queued up to board a ferry to France.

Meanwhile, further video footage has emerged which shows upwards of 20 cars driving off the Isle of Inishmore on Sunday night after it arrived in Rosslare from Pembroke (see other story).

An eyewitness said that the cars were all UK registered vehicles apart from one Dublin reg and one Cork reg.

While garda checkpoints had been setup in Kilrane previously, it's unclear if gardaí were present on this occasion, although checks would have been carried out at the port.

Published in Ferry

A £2.5m fund to help marine tourism businesses in Scotland restart operations in 2021 will be open for applications from next week, according to Marine Industry News.

The Marine and Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund is part of an overall £104.3m support package for tourism businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the fund is aimed at supporting businesses through the expense of gearing up for the 2021 season.

Both inland and coastal operators will be eligible to apply for grants from £1,000 up to £15,000 in the VisitScotland-administered scheme, which opens at noon on Tuesday 2 February.

“Industry surveys indicated over 75% of operators in the charter and small cruise sector secured two months or less of trading in 2020,” Sail Scotland chief executive Alan Rankin said.

“Managers of local visitor moorings and pontoon services faced a vastly curtailed season, many of whom are not for profit community led groups operating on extremely thin margins.

He added: “The importance of supporting the sector at this time of year is vital, not just for direct jobs but also the valuable economic benefits marine tourism brings to rural and remote coastal and island communities.”

Marine Industry News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

Scotland’s struggling aquatic tourism sector is set to be boosted by a £2.5m pandemic support package from the devolved government, as Marine Industry News reports.

Sail Scotland and Wild Scotland have secured the £2.5m restart grant scheme aimed at supporting businesses through the expense of gearing up for the 2021 season.

Both inland and coastal operators will be eligible to apply for grants from £1,000 up to £15,000 in the VisitScotland-administered scheme.

Operators of visitor moorings and pontoons will also be able to access grants of between £1,000 and £7,500 in the scheme, which opens in January.

“After months of pressing the case to the Scottish Government, we are pleased the hardship faced by operators in the marine sector is being recognised,” Sail Scotland chief executive Alan Rankin says.

But he adds that the restart funding is just one of the industry’s ‘three asks’ of the regional government — with the others being “detailed solutions around workable rules” and a “recovery marketing fund”.

Marine Industry News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) is the first ferry firm in the UK to receive a top industry verification for its infection risk management processes.

The operator of Scotland's lifeline services to west coast islands has been found compliant to a high standard for infection risk management, earning the right to use DNV GL's prestigious My Care Readiness Mark.

CalMac's HSQE team worked closely with independent third party risk management and quality assurance experts DNV GL, which has completed a verification assessment of the readiness of the organisation in managing infection risk from emerging pathogens.

All processes were reviewed using the My Care framework, which assesses, manages and mitigates infection risk in management systems, business processes and operations. This was carried out through document review, remote discussions with onboard management teams, and included eight site visits.

Louis de Wolff, Director of HSQE at CalMac, said: "The My Care Readiness Mark provides formal recognition of the high standards of health and safety protection on our routes to reduce the risk of infection.

"This award reaffirms our commitment to ensuring a safe environment for passengers, colleagues and communities, during the current COVID pandemic and beyond.

"The review process was in-depth and rigorous, and I am grateful to CalMac staff for their open and honest insight into our processes and how they are implemented across the organisation."

Aileen Orr, Healthcare Lead at DNV GL - Business Assurance in the UK, said, "Many congratulations to CalMac on this achievement, which is well deserved. I was impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of staff at all levels."

Published in Ferry

Co Antrim’s famous coastal path at The Gobbins is set to reopen next week on Tuesday 1 September. months after it was closed in the initial wave of coronavirus restrictions in Northern Ireland.

As RTÉ News reports, the cliff path — which was restored in 2015 after being closed for decades — has had a number of safety upgrades to allow for social distancing and hygiene standards to fight the spread of coronavirus.

Prebooking is also essential to allow for proper management of the popular Islandmagee attraction, renowned for its white-knuckle series of rugged steps, tunnels, caves and bridges.

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