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About eileeshb

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    Rugby, surfing, sci-fi, travel
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  1. Another update from Ireland. We’re set for phase 3 on Monday and with a brand new government too. We had our national election just before the covid outbreak in February and there was no clear majority for any of the political parties so the outgoing government remained in place until negotiations completed. We now have a 3 party government as of today, Fianna Fáil’s leader is our new Taoiseach (prime minister), Fine Gael (who led the previous government) and the Green Party make up the new coalition. The numbers of new cases have stayed very low so phase 3 now includes a lot of changes that originally been planned for mid August as well as elements planned for mid July. Hairdressers, barbers, beauty Salons, restaurants, hotels and swimming pools are allowed to reopen. Also pubs that serve food are allowed open but must be booked with tables to be occupied for no more than 1hour 45mins and at least €9 spent on food. Social distancing will be reduced from 2metres to 1metre on public transport and at restaurants and bars. Travel restrictions within Ireland will be gone, including allowing travel to the offshore islands much to the dismay of the islanders. the holiday homes in Lahinch where I work are already fully occupied and it was extremely busy during this past week. It’s a beachside town, the surf schools have resumed their summer kids camps with some modifications while all the cafe’s and bars have revised their internal layouts ready for Monday. As could only happen in Ireland the weather turned yesterday and won’t be improving anytime soon, so we had our summer in March, April and May. I got a hair appointment for next Saturday and I’m going to have to get my hair cut short so it stops getting tangled in the strap for my face shield at work. Also a fringe (bangs) to cover the indentation it makes on my forehead.. #firstworldproblems my home county hasn’t had a new case of covid since June 9th and less than 350 total. Visitors from Dublin are getting dirty looks from the locals down here as the vast majority of cases in Ireland were in Dublin. The chief medical officer is giving out about possibly dropping the quarantine requirement for international visitors as some of the most recent new cases here traced back to people who’d been in the UK or Sweden. right now the EU is trying to come up with reliable criteria the member states can agree/use for determining which countries will be on a “green” list which would mean residents from those countries won’t be expected to quarantine when they travel to/from another country on that list. Unfortunately there’s been a resurgence of covid in some of the Eastern Europe countries and there’s a few countries not using the same criteria or testing levels so their figures can’t be trusted. of course the airlines are the ones making the most noise about wanting international travel to be allowed without quarantine periods so they can salvage something from holiday season.
  2. Phase 2 started today in Ireland and the government broadened it as the rate of infection has dropped so drastically. We’re down to single digits on the deaths for the past 2 weeks, and less than 50 new cases per day for the last week. There’s less than 30 covid patients in ICU and about 130 in hospital.. that’s across the entire country. our travel restriction for non-essential travel was widened to our home county and up to 20km from home if crossing the county border. *All* retail outlets have been allowed to reopen with social distancing and stricter hygiene measures than normal. The original plan was to only allow shops with a street level entry and not in shopping malls to reopen this week, but they widened it to all retailers. We reopened our surf shop today and had customers in & out all day long as well as some phone orders and a delivery from one of our suppliers so we were back at full speed immediately. the surf schools aren’t happy with the guidelines they’ve gotten from the authorities, they’re being told any wetsuit they rent out has to be taken out of circulation for 4 days even though they already sanitise those wetsuits after each rental. One of our regular lunch spots has a take away option now and we can text them our order so we don’t have to go over and queue. The government has ditched phase 5 which would have been late august so everything is effectively back in action by mid July, though social distancing will continue and mass gatherings will stay banned. There is more noise now about the social distancing reducing from 2metres to 1metre possibly by the end of the summer which would make it easier for the schools to resume and possible attendance at sports events being allowed on a reduced capacity basis. Unfortunately there’s increasing numbers of small businesses announcing they won’t be reopening as they couldn’t stay afloat during lockdown, one of the local restaurants in my area is one. They’d only been in business a couple of years and had received high praise from food critics and restaurant reviewers so everyone was very disappointed to hear that news. A local boutique guesthouse has decided to switch to being a house for rent this summer as it’s capacity was too low to be viable as a B&B while the restrictions remain. As of midnight tonight we have a hosepipe ban! It’s a rarity in Ireland and would normally happen in July or August when we’ve had them in the past, but since people couldn’t resist power washing their cars, driveways and patios despite repeated warnings the ban finally came in. The Irish airlines and airports are trying to get the government to reopen at least some air routes without requiring a 14 day isolation. The problem for us is that while covid has definitely been brought under control here we share a land border with the UK for Northern Ireland and British authorities haven’t banned travel within the UK as a whole. The Northern Ireland authorities haven’t reopened to our level as yet so the border counties will likely be seeing more cross-border travel for shopping with the Nordies coming south for a change.
  3. Some of continental Europe is starting to open up, Ireland’s on track for phase 2 on June 8th which will allow non-essential journeys up to 20km and small retailers can re-open (this includes my family’s shop). Germany is on track to reopen it’s borders for travellers from 31 European countries by June 15th France have only just allowed internal travel up to 100km, no indication at present about when they’ll welcome cross-border visitors Spain is mostly onto phase 3 but Madrid and Barcelona are in phase 2, the government there plans to open to tourist July 1st, no 2 week quarantine Italy is almost back all businesses/services open, and from June 3rd will no longer require 2 week quarantine for visitors. i got all of this from a piece on an Irish news site, but to the best of my knowledge the lifting of quarantine requirements will depend on the country people are travelling from. I know Sweden and the UK are very much on the black/grey list at present Here’s the original article, bear in mind it’s very much a summary of current status.
  4. we spell it “craic” as it’s Gaelic, just to make sure it doesn’t get mistaken for cocaine 😉 Our national water service is warning us to conserve water because there’s been minimal rain since The start of March. February was horrible with lots of storms we were closed 2 days of each week that month because it wasn’t safe to be open. My family’s business is a surf shop and I’m reasonably confident there’s no other surf shop in the world that gets battered by the surf as regularly as ours. There’s a photo in this article of waves hitting our shop 6 years ago. Anyhow come March the weather broke and I don’t think we’ve had more than a handful of wet days since then. That is unheard of in this country, there’s a reason we’re the Emerald Isle. the politicians had their discussion with the medical people and the medics won the argument about the advised social distance.. we’re still advised to maintain 2mtr distance from each other. Michael O’Leary the CEO of Ryanair (biggest budget airline in Europe) went on a rant this morning wanting the government to speed up a return to normality. He even wants the hairdressers to reopen, they’re not scheduled to reopen until late July! The airline currently owes €1.2 billion in refunds to passengers due to covid cancellations. if you go grocery shopping the empty sections change every few weeks.. first was toilet paper, mince meat and all sorts of cleaning products. Then it was eggs, then various types of flour, then hair colouring products, now it’s gardening products!
  5. Those ships are probably bringing crew members home. The ships which should be getting refurbishment this year are: Epic, Escape and Gem if NCL stick to their normal 5 year timing. I know Epic was scheduled for a refurb in France in November, I don’t know if escape and gem were scheduled.
  6. Given the trouble some governments have had in ramping up testing and providing rapid results I can’t see too many of them providing testing to people that have no symptoms and have had no known contact with an active case. In Ireland at the peak we had over a week’s wait for test results and up to 2 weeks to even get tested. Now it’s about 48hours to get a test result and we’re still sending samples to Germany for processing. my doctor and his family were among the first cases here and they were all asymptomatic throughout.
  7. My uncle’s wife is from a Mayo family, her parents were from Mayo even though she grew up in Chicago and co. Tipperary. Her youngest brothers are just a little older than me so I remember them packing up to move to Chicago again in the 80s. There’s usually a few of her family over here every year, they go to Mayo and nearly always visit us in co. Clare too. Meanwhile in Ireland we’re now in the middle of Phase 1 unwinding of lockdown, diy shops, garden centres, home appliance and electronic shops have reopened. Phase 2 should be starting June 8th which will mean I’ll be back at work as they’ll be allowing small retailers to reopen. The 2 cafes in the village have reopened for takeaway, one for breakfast & lunch and the other for late lunch & dinner. social distancing is still in place, there’s noises from some of the politicians that they want the distance reduced from 2m to 1m due to updated guidance from WHO. The authorities here finally decided to recommend usage of masks indoors and on public transport. They’re sticking with the no-gloves recommendation telling us to use hand sanitiser or soap regularly. Right now non-essential travel is limited to 5km, in phase 2 that will change to 20km. I live just over 20km from the village where I work but I suspect the local police won’t be too strict on that 20km limit for people heading to the coast. The big concern is Dublin residents heading to holiday towns, more than half the cases in Ireland have been in Dublin. anyone coming into Ireland from anywhere but the UK is supposed to self isolate for 14days, the politicians are in the process of passing the legislation required to make it mandatory. in theme of other stuff happening alongside covid-19... our weather service has issued a potato blight warning for next week. Bear in mind the Irish potato famine caused by blight in the 1800’s reduced our population by half between deaths from starvation and immigration. While Ireland isn’t as dependent on potatoes anymore the psychological impact of potato blight is significant.
  8. Another European update... here in Ireland we’ve been warned to conserve water “wash your hands not your patio”, the dry weather continues. the EU authorities are making noises about reopening to tourism but are letting each government make their own decisions about opening their borders. traditionally continental Europe was covered by the “schengen” travel area which meant no border controls within that area. Ireland and the UK are not part of that scheme and have our own “common travel area”. The schengen regulations are effectively suspended for now. But some countries within the region are opening some of their borders with neighbours. Germany and Austria look to be opening their shared border, some of the Baltic states have also opened their borders to each other. the Eastern European countries haven’t had anything close to the number of cases the western countries have. The uk are allowing travel from France without quarantine. Here’s a piece from an Irish news site
  9. I’d suspect most of that too with a couple of other items Any ship that doesn’t already have it will have to upgrade their aircon to be HEPA standard throughout. also the only way that they can lower capacity at various venues is if they lower the capacity overall in the number of guests onboard. btw I love how optimist everyone is about a vaccine for this virus. The common head cold is caused by a variety of viruses some of which are also corona virus types but there’s no vaccine for those. The first and more likely step will be a solid treatment regime for those already infected using existing medications and therapies. If a recognised therapy/treatment is established I’d suspect cruise ships will be expected to have the capability to treat any of their personnel or guests onboard or they won’t be able to sail.
  10. Latest from Ireland... our chief medical officer is warning that a relaxation on May 18th is not certain as they’re seeing increasing numbers of cases among “young” people. Basically the teens and early 20’s are not abiding by the stay at home advice and are visiting each other, so when one of them tests positive they’re infection more than people in the other age groups are. the National leaving certificate exams have been cancelled (similar to U.S. SATs and UK A-levels but 6 or 7 subjects included) those exams almost wholly responsible for college placement. Instead the teachers in the schools have give a best guess of what grade each of their students would have gotten had the exams happened. meanwhile the Irish government is announcing supports for the travel industry in Ireland, they’re going to back refund vouchers so if any Irish tour/travel agent goes bust before its customers can use their credit notes the government will refund those customers. The main representative body for our pubs are trying to get the government to allow them to reopen at the same time as restaurants instead of waiting until august. So far the government and medical types are saying no. Ireland and a half dozen or so other countries are trying to get the EU to change the refund rules for the airlines and get permission for the airlines to only issue vouchers but be certain that the voucher rules are as customer friendly as possible, including that the airline issues a refund at the end of the validity of the voucher if it isn’t used. we’ve had very unseasonably dry weather since the lockdown started back in mid-March, so much so that my local council issued a red level wildfire warning this week, it was orange for the last few weeks. Thankfully when we’ve had wildfires in the past they’re rarely as extensive or destructive as those in Australia or California or other hotter countries.
  11. Latest update from Ireland, lockdown extended to May 18th. 2 slight easings to the restrictions kick in on Tuesday (its a holiday weekend here): over 70s are allowed leave their homes for exercise as long as they stay away from other people, the exercise can be within 5km of your home instead of 2km. There’s also a 5 phase plan to ramp down from lockdown, each phase currently scheduled for 3 week intervals which are subject to change depending on how the virus progresses. if you’re curious about it Here’s the official page. The last stage is August 10th at which point things within Ireland revert to near normal.. everything open but with social distancing still in place. It’s only at that point us “mainlanders “ can start to visit our islands again, though other tourism elements are projected to reopen July 20th.
  12. Update from Ireland our version of a lockdown has been extended to May 5th, and mass gatherings (over 5,000) banned until at least September which will wipeout the summer festivals as well as all sports events. Our health minister has already speculated that pubs may not reopen at all this year. My local council has issued an orange level fire warning for the whole of this week, there were 2 bushfires already and another today. Wildfires are not really something people associate with Ireland, but it’s been oddly dry weather since the lockdown began. The EU has extended the border closures to non-essential travel until May 15th, this is highly likely to be extended further. Here is the EU page on travel and transport.
  13. was the cruise starting at port canaveral or was it a port of call? my understanding was that at a port of call they only leave the contents of your safe with the port agent if you miss all aboard.
  14. In case any of you are getting airlines saying they’ll *only* issue credit be aware that EU rules require them to offer a refund if it’s the airline that cancels the flight. (This applies to flights arriving or departing from an eu airport). If they cancel within 14 days of the travel date they also have to payout compensation in addition to the fare paid. They are following the rules at the moment but making it as difficult as possible to get a refund some requiring us to use premium rate phone lines with hours-long wait times. The airlines over here are trying to get the EU to change the rules about refunds but as of this moment the consumer protections are still in place. With all the cruise line hijinx I can see that law being extended to ships in future particularly if any of them change their booking t&cs to prevent refunds.
  15. Yikes! As I travel solo on my first cruise I booked all my excursion through NCL, but on subsequent cruises I mixed it up a bit. If it’s something that has fallback transport options then I’ll happily go with an independent operator as long as they’ve a decent reputation. on my last cruise the Online group pre-cruise was quite active and a member offered to line-up a tour guide/bus for Tortola. After an initial false start trying to locate our guide and his bus we headed off on our island tour... the last stop was cane garden bay and we were supposed to be back on the bus after 45mins. Slight problem, the girl and her friends that had organised everything didn’t show up on time!! I offer to go yell for them.. no sign of them so I head back towards the bus only to fall and skin my knee, then guess who appears to help me up, our missing tour people! We just about made it back to the pier before all aboard time. Luckily for us there had been a few mishaps on some of the NCL excursions so there was a massive queue on the pier. The ship was probably a good hour late in departure by the end of it. upside to the queue... alcohol purchases were not confiscated unless you’d bought big multiple bottles.
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