Restaurants and churches will reopen in Italy on Monday as part of a fresh wave of lockdown easing in Europe, but rising coronavirus death tolls in Brazil, South Africa and other parts of the world showed the worst is still to come in many countries.
The relaxation of curbs in some places comes as governments around the world struggle to repair the vast economic damage unleashed by the pandemic, with Japan the latest to slump into a recession and the Fed warning of a severe US downturn as the global infection count topped 4.7 million.
But the World Health Organization has warned that reopening too quickly without a vaccine could trigger a second devastating wave of infections, and the body will host a virtual global health assembly this week to help chart a course out of the crisis.
Once the worst-hit country in the world, Italy on Monday will take its latest step in a cautious, gradual return to normality, allowing businesses and churches to reopen after a two-month lockdown.
“I share the joy of those communities who can finally reunite as liturgical assemblies, a sign of hope for all society,” Pope Francis said on Sunday during his live-streamed prayer, with Saint Peter’s Basilica also throwing its door open to visitors.
The Vatican, an independent enclave in the heart of Rome, has applied the same anti-virus measures as Italy, which imposed strict lockdowns after a dizzying rise in COVID-19 deaths and infections that overwhelmed hospitals.
Businesses including restaurants, bars, cafes, hairdressers, and stores will be allowed to re-open on Monday. Gyms, pools, cinemas and theatres are allowed to open on May 25.
Spain is also set to further ease its lockdown measures, while Germany has already taken several steps towards a reopening, including the resumption of its top football league — but with empty stadiums.
There was other welcome relief for Europeans on the weekend too, with people enjoying beaches in France, Greece and Italy, and Britons going to parks to bask in the sun.
South America, Africa hit hard
Despite the optimism in parts of Europe, the deadly pandemic remains on the march having claimed more than 315,000 lives, with worrying data from South America and Africa offering a reminder of the severity of the crisis.
Deaths in Brazil have risen sharply in recent days, and with more than 241,000 infections reached over the weekend, South America’s largest country now has the fourth-highest caseload in the world.
But President Jair Bolsonaro has been a staunch opponent of lockdowns, claiming they have unnecessarily hurt the Brazilian economy, but experts and regional leaders have warned that the healthcare infrastructure could collapse.
The far-right leader alongside several ministers greeted hundreds of his supporters in the capital Brasilia on Sunday in defiance of social distancing measures, telling the crowd that the virus restrictions were too much.
Latin America and the Caribbean have recorded more than half a million infections, with almost half of them from Brazil, and there is growing alarm about the impact of the virus on the least privileged in the region.
Ecuador reported the first COVID-19 case in one of its indigenous Amazon tribes, deepening the crisis in one of South America’s hardest-hit countries.
Rights groups in Nicaragua have accused the government of hiding the true number of COVID-19 cases by rushing burials.
Nicaraguan hospital staff have said the Nicaraguan health system is overwhelmed with patients suffering from respiratory illnesses, relatives say the bodies of loved ones are being carted off in pick-up trucks for “express burials” without their consent.
There was also grim data in Africa, where the number of infections rose rapidly.
South Africa on Sunday reported 1,160 new coronavirus infections, the highest daily number since the first case was recorded in March, taking the total to 15,515 — the highest on the continent.
In Asia, India extended its lockdown — the world’s biggest — to the end of May as it reported its biggest single-day jump in infections on Sunday.
Deep economic pain
The pandemic has left the world economy facing its worst downturn since the Great Depression, and governments are scrambling to figure out how long they can sustain lockdowns with no vaccine available.
There was yet more evidence of the deep economic damage done by the coronavirus on Monday, as Japan slid into its first recession since 2015 and some analysts predicted the worst is yet to come.
US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell warned the American economy — the world’s largest — is going to suffer a massive downturn.
“The data we’ll see for this quarter, which ends in June, will be very, very bad. There’ll be a big decline in economic activity, big increase in unemployment,” Powell said.
He added that a full recovery may not happen without a COVID-19 vaccine.
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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