New York City — the epicenter of America’s coronavirus outbreak — began partially reopening its shattered economy Monday after almost three months of lockdown, as the World Health Organization warned the health crisis was “worsening” worldwide.
Some 400,000 New Yorkers were allowed to return to work as retailers began offering limited in-store and curbside pickup, with construction and manufacturing also permitted to resume operations.
“It’s good to be back,” said Michael Ostergren, manager of the Shakespeare and Co bookshop on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where a trickle of customers arrived shortly after the doors reopened.
“Everybody wants to be out of the house. We’re just picking up where we left off in March,” he added.
As New York entered phase one of its reopening and some of Europe’s hardest-hit nations lurched back to a new kind of normal, the WHO reported a record number of new cases globally.
Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said 136,000 cases had been reported in the past 24 hours, “the most in a single day so far,” with the majority of them in the Americas and South Asia.
“Although the situation in Europe is improving, globally it is worsening,” he told reporters.
COVID-19 caused more than 21,000 confirmed and probable deaths in New York after America’s most populous city quickly became ground zero of the US epidemic in late March.
Mayor Bill de Blasio hailed the first easing of restrictions but warned residents that they must continue to social distance and wash their hands regularly.
“This is a triumphant moment for New Yorkers who fought back against this disease,” he told CNN.
“Come back to work, but remember to stick to those smart rules that got us this far.”
But the reopening effort was stymied by large numbers of high-end stores remaining boarded up following widespread looting during anti-racism protests a week ago.
The start of the economic reboot came a day after de Blasio lifted a controversial week-long curfew he had imposed over the looting.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has urged the thousands of protesters who demonstrated the police killing in Minneapolis of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, to get tested for COVID-19, fearing they may trigger a surge in infections.
One shop that did open in Midtown Manhattan was The Container Store, a home storage outlet.
Sixty-one-year-old K.B Barton left with three bags of items that he had first ordered online.
“It’s livelier today in Manhattan. I see a lot more people in the streets. I am happier but not everyone wears a mask,” he told AFP.
In the borough of Queens, rush hour subway trains into Manhattan were slightly busier than in recent weeks, but still nowhere near pre-coronavirus numbers.
Seventy-year-old Brandy Bligen said he was looking forward to dining outside, which will be included in phase two of the reopening alongside barbershops, and expected in a fortnight if cases don’t surge.
“Being confined is enough to drive you crazy,” he told AFP at the Roosevelt Avenue-Jackson Heights station.
New York’s bars will be allowed to open in phase three, but movie theaters and museums have to wait until phase four, likely in late July and with reduced capacity.
COVID-19 deaths have passed 404,000 worldwide, with more than seven million infections, since the disease emerged in China late last year before sweeping the globe, subjecting billions to some form of lockdown and paralysing economies.
Governments around the world are cautiously peeling back those restrictions to resuscitate their economies while trying to avoid a resurgence of infections.
In Belgium, pubs and eateries flung their doors open, but with social distancing measures in force, while Ireland opened shops and allowed gatherings of six people and limited travel.
Moscow said Monday it would ease border restrictions and lift lockdown measures in the Russian capital from Tuesday.
New Zealand meanwhile buoyed hopes for the rest of the world as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared that her country had beaten the virus, though strict border controls remain.
But Britain, embarking on a more cautious reopening, imposed a two-week quarantine for anyone coming into the country, British nationals included — sparking legal action by airlines.
The quarantine came as it recorded its lowest daily death toll in more than two months, with 55 deaths in the previous 24 hours.
Across the Atlantic, figures showed the US economy entered a recession in February, ending 128 months of expansion.
And the World Bank said the pandemic has caused the broadest collapse of the global economy since 1870, despite unprecedented government support.
In Latin America, countries geared up for the worst as the outbreak escalated, with Brazil, Mexico and Peru particularly hard hit.
Brazil has the world’s third-highest death toll at more than 36,000, but President Jair Bolsonaro continues to play down the impact of the virus and has urged regional officials to lift lockdown measures.
Fears in Asia that the virus may not be under control persist, with the death toll and infection rate climbing sharply in India, even as the government lifted some curbs Monday after a 10-week lockdown.
Reporting 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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