Beaches in France and Italy opened on Saturday for the first weekend since the countries eased coronavirus lockdowns, while football fans awaited the return of major league action with Germany’s Bundesliga set to kick off.
The reopenings are a major sign of returning normality for countries hit hard by the pandemic, which has killed more than 307,000 people, infected over 4.5 million, wrought vast economic havoc and brought life to a halt.
But as countries lift restrictions to boost their stagnant economies, there have been widespread fears of a second wave of infections that could plunge the world back into lockdown.
Such fears have delayed the return of team sport — where it is almost impossible for players to practise social distancing measures — and all eyes will be on Saturday’s Bundesliga matches.
The games will be held without spectators and players will have to follow strict hygiene guidelines — former Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou was suspended by Hertha Berlin just for shaking hands with team-mates.
“The whole world will be looking at Germany, to see how we get it done,” said Hansi Flick, the boss of league-leaders Bayern Munich.
“If we manage to ensure that the season continues, it will send a signal to all leagues.”
Russia has announced its own football league will return next month and pushed ahead with plans to lift restrictions despite recording its highest daily death toll on Saturday, with 119 fatalities.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday the country would extend its state of emergency for “about a month”, until the transition out of lockdown is completed.
In France, the first weekend after the most strict measures were lifted saw many venture out into the spring sunshine.
“I really missed nature,” 55-year-old doctor Lise Balmes said of walking through a forest outside Paris.
Here comes the sun
With the European summer fast approaching, governments are moving to help their key tourism industries to salvage something from the wreckage.
Italy, one of the nations worst hit by COVID-19, announced it would reopen to European holidaymakers from June 3 and scrap quarantine requirements for arrivals.
Parasols and sunloungers have started to appear on Italy’s coastlines and Greece will open some of its air and sea links from Monday.
Malls opened in the Philippines’ capital Manila on Saturday, but saw only a trickle of customers.
“It looks like people are not too excited to come back. Maybe all their money is gone,” said shoe shop employee Kristine Grape.
However, for some the cautious easing of restrictions has not been enough.
Major German cities on Saturday will see the latest of a growing wave of protests against the country’s lockdown measures.
The demonstrations have been mired in controversies over conspiracy theories, anti-Semitism and extremism.
In a sign of rising tension, a mock tombstone was found in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s electoral offices, apparently to protests against the lockdown, police said Saturday.
One hope of avoiding a dreaded second wave has been a vaccine, and US President Donald Trump voiced hope late on Friday that one would be available by late 2020 — a timeline deemed unrealistic by many experts.
“We are looking to get it by the end of the year if we can, maybe before,” Trump told reporters at the White House as he discussed America’s “Operation Warp Speed” effort in the global race for a vaccine.
This timeline is more aggressive than the one-year scenario put forward by European scientists.
The hunt for a vaccine for a disease that the World Health Organisation (WHO) says may never disappear has also threatened to become a source of tension between the globe’s haves and have-nots.
The virus itself is having an uneven effect on communities around the world.
New research on Saturday showed that people living in the most deprived areas of Britain are more than four times likelier to test positive than those living in the richest neighbourhoods.
The pressure to ease lockdowns has mounted as the catastrophic economic effects of the virus have become clearer.
In the United States, the world’s worst-affected country with more than 87,000 deaths and 1.4 million cases, industrial production plunged 11.2 percent in April, the largest drop in a century.
Department store JCPenney, a retail institution which has not turned a profit since 2011, on Friday became the latest US business to file for bankruptcy.
“May will not be a month of celebration. Nor will June. Nor July. Nor probably the rest of this year,” warned Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail.
With 36.5 million Americans — more than 10 percent of the population — now out of work, Trump has been keen to ease lockdown measures as he seeks re-election in November.
Some areas are resisting. Lockdown measures in New York City have been extended until May 28.
In the US House of Representatives, Democrats narrowly pushed through a $3 trillion rescue package late on Friday — but Republicans have vowed to block the package in the Senate, which they control.
Since emerging in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, the novel coronavirus has affected almost every country in the world.
The WHO has warned Africa, which has so far been spared the worst, could have 231 million people infected and up to 190,000 die.
Besides its health and economic toll, the pandemic has also caused political ructions.
The latest fallout was in Brazil, which lost its second health minister in a month as Nelson Teich resigned.
An official said the resignation was due to the minister’s “incompatibility” with right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s approach to fighting the country’s spiralling COVID-19 crisis.
Content and photos: AFP
Emirates undertakes largest known fleet retrofit project
Emirates has kick-started its plans to upgrade the entire interior cabins of 120 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft – two of the largest commercial aircraft types in service today.
This ambitious project, representing a multi-billion dollar investment to ensure Emirates’ customers “fly better” for the coming years, officially commences in November and is managed entirely by Emirates’ Engineering team.
The target is to completely retrofit four Emirates aircraft from start to finish every month, continuously for over 2 years. Once the 67 earmarked A380s are refreshed and back in service, 53 777s will undergo their facelift. This will see nearly 4,000 brand new Premium Economy seats installed, 728 First Class suites refurbished and over 5,000 Business Class seats upgraded to a new style and design when the project is complete in April 2025.
In addition, carpets and stairs will be upgraded, and cabin interior panels refreshed with new tones and design motifs including the iconic ghaf trees which are native to the UAE.
No other airline has handled a retrofit of this magnitude in-house, and there’s no blueprint for such an undertaking. Therefore Emirates Engineering teams have been planning and testing extensively, to establish and streamline processes, and identify and address any possible snags.
Trials began on an A380 in July, where experienced engineers literally took each cabin apart piece-by-piece and logged every step. From removing seats and panelling to bolts and screws, every action was tested, timed and mapped out. Potential impediments to completing the installation of Emirates’ new Premium Economy Class or the retrofit of the remaining three cabins in just 16 days were flagged and documented for expert teams to review and address.
As part of the programme, new purpose-built workshops will be set up at Emirates Engineering to repaint, re-trim and re-upholster Business and Economy Class seats with new covers and cushioning. First Class suites will be carefully disassembled and sent to a specialised company to replace the leather, arm rests and other materials.
From the trials, Engineers discovered several unexpected solutions for instance: that existing food catering trucks could be easily repurposed to move parts destined for refurbishment from the aircraft to the workshop for their refresh, as these vehicles had doors of the right width and offer sufficient space.
Until the retrofit programme starts in earnest in November, a cross-disciplinary team has been assembled to regularly review the planning process, address any issues, and track updates on various aspects of the project such as procurement, staffing, and training.
Emirates’ new Premium Economy cabin class, which offers luxurious seats, more legroom, and a service to rival many airlines’ business offering, is currently available to Emirates customers travelling on popular A380 routes to London, Paris, Sydney. More customers will be able to experience the airline’s new Premium Economy cabins starting from year end, as the retrofit programme picks up momentum.
Eleanor helps over 30 Maldives hotels elevate guest services
Eleanor has been named as one of the top 10 concierge software providers globally.
Based on accurate, timely reviews from real users, the HotelTechAwards rank the world’s best hotel software firms and products and it also provides hoteliers direct access to a growing network of hotel technology professionals and decision-makers.
“The guest experience is the cornerstone of our platform. Our unified resort wide solution, Eleanor, has been built for resorts off the back of many years working in the industry and addresses the needs of both Sales and Marketing departments and perhaps just as importantly, the operational requirements of the team on the ground at the property. The days of resorts working with disjointed systems are now behind us,” says Darren Caple, co-founder and CEO.
“We are on a mission to make the guest’s resort experience as easy and as frictionless as possible. Whereas traditional providers in the market have come at this purely from a guest communication perspective, our background in resorts has allowed us to combine this basic requirement with the streamlining of operational processes. The result is truly a resort wide solution that removes the need for countless different systems to be deployed.
Eleanor allows resorts to deliver consistent, superior service levels to guests across all stages of their journey with contactless features helping to alleviate sensitive touch-points in the post pandemic period. More than 30 properties in the Maldives use our Eleanor platform to help butlers and guest services elevate the guest experience. These properties are seeing an increase in incremental revenue by over 30% and operational efficiencies of 600+ man hours per month. We are also beginning to roll out the platform in some Caribbean properties!”
Eleanor is making waves in the hospitality industry by pushing the conventional limits of what a resort guest app can achieve through its unique ability to facilitate direct bookings for services and activities. The traditional ‘request to book’ feature that is common amongst almost all other hotel apps is removed by a power booking and operational platform sitting at the heart of the solution that covers all the resorts’ departments. It’s this module which realises enormous operational benefits and insights for the resort.
“We, at Eleanor, are humbled and honoured that our clients have provided such positive reviews. Feedback from our clients, partners and hoteliers are incredibly valuable for us and we will continue to improve our offering and services”, said Caple.
To celebrate this success, Eleanor is currently offering resorts a free one month trial, together with free setup and training and discounted monthly fees.
Eleanor, founded in 2018 and has its headquarters in the United Kingdom. Created from over 15 years of hands-on expertise, Eleanor allows resorts to deliver consistent, superior service levels to its guests across all stages of their journey with contactless features helping to alleviate sensitive touch-points in the post pandemic period. Eleanor also helps to unlock operational efficiencies and boost incremental revenue and guest loyalty.
Hotel Tech Report’s Best Concierge Software 2022 Runner Up, reviewed as a preferred and reliable hotel software product by the global hotelier community.
For more information, visit www.eleanorapp.com.
Emirates’ recruiters scour the world for cabin crew talent with 30 city stops
Emirates, the world’s most global airline, is seeking talented people with a passion for service to join its award-winning cabin crew team.
As air travel returns with a vengeance, the airline’s recruiters are busy meeting and hiring candidates in 30 cities from now until the end of June. In this latest drive, Emirates’ teams will travel from Australia to the UK, and dozens of European cities in between, as well as Cairo, Algiers, Tunis and Bahrain.
Abdulaziz Al Ali, Emirates Group’s Executive Vice President for Human Resources said: “There’s no more exciting airline than Emirates for anyone interested in a flying career, and we’ve received tremendous interest since we began our recruitment drive for cabin crew in November.”
“While parts of the application process are done online, we always make the effort to meet our candidates in person whenever we can, and that is why our Talent Acquisition team is doing a whirlwind 30-city tour over the next 6 weeks to assess prospective candidates.”
Emirates’ truly global cabin crew team represent 160 nationalities, reflecting its customer mix and international operations in over 130 cities on six continents.
All Emirates crew are based in the exciting cosmopolitan city of Dubai, with company-provided accommodation, tax-free salary and more benefits.
Interested candidates can read more about the Emirates cabin crew role, and apply online at: https://www.emiratesgroupcareers.com/cabin-crew/
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