Muslims and Christians around the world were set to gather Sunday to celebrate their faith as Eid al-Fitr begins and churches reopen from lockdowns, presenting fresh challenges for authorities trying to curb the coronavirus.
The faithful were preparing for worship from Asia to Europe, where the exit from virus restrictions accelerated with Spain announcing a resumption of foreign tourism and its top football league.
But the disease continued its surge in large parts of South America, with the death toll in Brazil passing 22,000 and infections topping 347,000, the world’s second-highest caseload.
Efforts to lift lockdowns continued on both sides of the Atlantic, with US President Donald Trump sending a signal of his intentions with a golfing trip — his first such outing since March 8.
With infection numbers stabilising in the West, many governments are trying to move towards lighter social distancing measures that they hope will revive moribund business and tourism sectors.
In Spain, which has enforced one of the world’s strictest lockdowns since mid-March, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez sought to reassure potential visitors, saying that from July 1, “entry for foreign tourists into Spain will resume in secure conditions”.
The country’s La Liga football could return on June 8, he added.
Italy is also due to reopen its borders to foreign tourists from June 3.
French churches were preparing to hold their first Sunday masses in more than two months after the government bowed to a ruling that they should be reopened — provided proper precautions were taken.
Nearly two weeks into the relaxation of its shutdown, France finally allowed mosques, synagogues and churches to reopen, but priests, pastors, rabbis and imams will still have to ensure the correct safety measures are in force.
Worshippers will have to wear masks, disinfectant gel must be on hand and seating will need to be organised to ensure people keep a safe distance from each other.
“My cell phone is crackling with messages!” Father Pierre Amar, a priest in Versailles, told AFP.
France’s mosques nevertheless called on Muslims to stay at home to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. They said they would gradually resume services from June 3.
In Saudi Arabia, Eid prayers will be held at the two holy mosques in the cities of Mecca and Medina “without worshippers”, authorities said on Saturday as the kingdom began a five-day curfew after infections quadrupled since the start of Ramadan.
While for Christians in Jerusalem the Church of the Holy Sepulchre will reopen on Sunday but with tight restrictions.
The virus is still a cause for concern in the region, with tightly packed Gaza registering its first death on Saturday.
Some Muslims in Indonesia were taking radical steps to reunite with loved ones for Eid, with people in the world’s most populous Muslim majority country scrambling to get around lockdown rules.
The government has banned most travel across the country, and many residents are turning to smugglers and false certificates.
One man told AFP he got a fake certificate for his daughter to travel home from university in the capital, Jakarta.
“We want to celebrate Eid al-Fitr together like in past years,” he said.
Globally about 5.29 million people have now been infected with the virus which has killed 341,000, with Latin America the new global epicentre of the pandemic.
Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has played down the severity of the outbreak but faces increasing pressure amid a rising death toll and the resignations of two of his health ministers within weeks.
Scrutiny intensified after release of a video of a cabinet meeting on April 22 — as the country was fast becoming a virus flashpoint — in which Bolsonaro and his deputies barely mentioned the pandemic.
One of the few mentions of COVID-19 came when the environment minister suggested the government take advantage of the distraction created by the virus to relax environmental protection rules.
Neighbouring Peru is also struggling. The country of 32 million has registered more than 3,100 deaths.
In Ecuador, tourism Minister Rosi Prado told AFP the pandemic could cost the country’s important tourism sector $400 million a month.
With the economic toll from lockdowns rising across the globe, efforts continue to kickstart shattered economies.
In the United States, where the death toll is nearing 100,000, Trump has aggressively pushed to reopen the economy, defying the advice of health experts.
The US economy has shed almost 40 million jobs this year and many companies, most recently car rental giant Hertz, have gone to the wall. But most states have begun easing their lockdowns and many on Saturday reopened public beaches.
“We just get tired of being stuck in the house. There’s not much else to do. So I came to the beach,” stay-at-home mother Kayla Lambert said, as her two children played in the surf in Galveston, Texas.
Resistance to lockdowns among the restless public has been gathering steam, with protests in Spain and Germany over the weekend.
Thousands gathered in Madrid on Saturday to demand an end to the rules and Sanchez’s resignation, in a protest led by the far-right party Vox.
And in Britain a scandal erupted over a disclosure that a top government adviser had even flouted the rules.
Dominic Cummings was seen visiting his parents 250 miles (400 kilometres) away from his London home during the country’s lockdown, despite suffering from virus symptoms.
He denies any wrongdoing but faces calls to quit.
Others sounded a rare positive note about the effects of the virus, enjoying open spaces that were once packed with tourists.
Laia Torra, in Barcelona’s UNESCO-listed Park Guell, said the park had become too crowded in recent years.
“It’s wonderful, it’s like going back 20 years,” she said as her children played.
Reporting and photo: 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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