First pleasure craft of the Summer

Yachts are returning to Weymouth Harbour

Weymouth Harbour looking out toward Nothe Fort: an early Summer Yacht, 7th July
Weymouth Harbour looking out toward Nothe Fort: an early Summer Yacht, 7th July

It is great to see pleasure craft starting to return to Weymouth Harbour. The lockdown has been long and devoid of much normal activity. Yachts and Tall Ships have been sorely missed this year. Although there have been a few stand up paddleboarders around.

The “bounce-back”

We have seen most of the Guesthouses and Hotels re-opening this week. Pubs and restaurants are starting to open again and it is good news all round for Tourism. Even Covid-19 nes is reasonably good recently. Dorset cases are believed to be below 2 cases per day. The UK Government has pledged to buy 100 million doses of a trial vaccine (ADZ1222) from Astra-Zeneca?Oxford UNiversity. Also, UK is purchasing a further 60 million doses of “ASO3” vaccine from Sanofi/Glaxo-Smith-Kline, despite worries earlier about availability. Hopefully, one or both of these vaccines will prove effective.

Harbour changes – Pleasure craft return

Meanwhile, in the Harbour, the pontoons are back and align better with available services (power, water, etc). There is hope for a new Harbourmaster appointment. The new Ferry Steps are open and Weymouth Bay cruises are back. Unfortunately, the Portland Ferry and rowboat ferries will not start till 2021. There is hope that a new cross-channel Ferry may be in sight, following negotiations.

More yachts on 7th July, early morning
More yachts on 7th July, early morning

Covid-19 Liability Waiver

Please, all guests read and sign this waiver

I acknowledge the contagious nature of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 and that the NHS and many other public health authorities still recommend practicing social distancing.
I further acknowledge that Aaran Guesthouse has put in place preventative measures to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19.

I further acknowledge that Aaran Guesthouse can not guarantee that I will not become infected with the Coronavirus/Covid-19.

I understand that the risk of becoming exposed to and/or infected by the Coronavirus/COVID-19 may result from the actions, omissions, or negligence of myself and others, including, but not limited to, guesthouse staff, and other clients and their families.

I voluntarily seek services provided by Aaran Guesthouse and acknowledge that I am increasing my risk to exposure to the Coronavirus/COVID-19.

I acknowledge that I must comply with all set procedures to reduce the spread while attending my appointment.
I attest that:

  • I am not experiencing any symptom of illness such as cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.
  • I have not traveled internationally within the last 14 days.
  • I have not traveled to a highly impacted area in the last 14 days.
  • I do not believe I have been exposed to someone with a suspected and/or confirmed case of the Coronavirus/COVID-19.
  • I have not been diagnosed with Coronavirus/Covid-19 and not yet cleared as non contagious by state or local public health authorities.
  • I am following all NHS recommended guidelines as much as possible and limiting my exposure to the Coronavirus/COVID-19.

I hereby release and agree to hold Aaran Guesthouse (“Aaran House”) harmless from, and waive on behalf of myself, my heirs, and any personal representatives any and all causes of action, claims, demands, damages, costs, expenses and compensation for damage or loss to myself and/or property that may be caused by any act, or failure to act of the guesthouse, or that may otherwise arise in any way in connection with any services received from Aaran Guesthouse.

I understand that this release discharges Aaran Guesthouse from any liability or claim that I, my heirs, or any personal representatives may have against the guesthouse with respect to any bodily injury, illness, death, medical treatment, or property damage that may arise from, or in connection to, any services received from Aaran Guesthouse.

This liability waiver and release extends to the guesthouse together with all owners, partners, and employees.

Re-opening 4th July

We are re-opening on 4th July and have our safety measures in place already

UK Government has confirmed that many more businesses may re-open soon, we have started plans. Therefore, part of our planning for re-opening on 4th July, is to re-open our booking diaries and add safety messages for prospective guests.

Book with Confidence. Re-opening 4th July. We are prepared with guidance handbook, PPE and training already in place.
Book with ConfidenceSafety measures are in place to protect our guests

We suspect UK Government may require risk assessment as part of the legal framework for re-opening. So far, they have “mentioned” this for non-essential shops but have NOT clearly stated it as legally required. Accordingly, we think HSE may require it but they also have NOT been clear.

In order to be ready, we have undertaken some basic training for Covid-19 readiness. Courses include correct use of PPE and control and prevention of virus spread.

We have prepared a brief handbook, containing risk assessment and guidance sheets, for ourselves, guest and staff.

Visit Britain Good to Go logo
We are accredited by Visit Britain
covid_confident_certificate

In this series of posts, we tried to outline what the Covid-19 lock down has meant for us. We have strayed into political comment here and there. But only because the Government’s handling of the emergency has been disastrously slow and inept. Allegedly, the UK is suffering the World’s worst economic impact. And we have the second-highest death-rate in the World. When Minister after Minister comes on TV daily spouting they have “done the right thing at the right time” it grates on the nerves. They point to their “unprecendented” achievements and it pales compared to many other countries. Claims to be “following the Science”, just look like getting their excuses ready.

In this period of uncertainty, we want to re-open in July, on the 4th as vaguely suggested by Government. We think we have everything in place to re-open safely, including training, risk assessments and PPE. We hope our customers will feel safe when they return to Aaran House.

Covid-19 Lockdown – end of Month 3

We are preparing for bookings after 4th July, with PPE, hand gel and safety measures

Overview of the last month

Government ignore the warnings. That could be the title for the whole Covid-19 mess

A busy month

During the last month, we have seen many changes. Government ignore the warnings and press on with easements on lockdown. Measures included permission to travel and meet in small groups. Some shielded persons may now venture outside. We anticipate re-opening on July 4th. Although this may change again, depending on UK.Gov restrictions.

Crowded beaches after the Cummings affair and Government ignore the warnings
Beaches were crowded after the Cummings affair
(Photo taken from the relative safety of the Esplanade!)

Preparing to re-open

We have tentatively re-opened our booking diary from 4th July. Some PPE has been ordered and received (facemasks, gloves, gowns, bootees, sanitizer). We await guidelines SPECIFIC to small hotels, guesthouses and b&b’s. Meanwhile, we are trying to follow lengthy and detailed guidelines from UK Hospitality Association.

Your author, has undertaken (and passed) two basic Covid-19 online courses from WHO. These concerned correct use of PPE and control of pandemic outbreaks, including Covid-19.

Government mired in controversy

We do not intend to dwell too much on the “Demonic” Cummings affair. His betrayal of the British People and arrogantly issued web of blatant lies must go down in History as something akin to Benedict Arnold, Judas Iscariot or maybe Pol Pot, before he took over completely. UK Government has lost respect and trust in supporting this treacherous weasel. (No insult intended to weasels!) Again, Government ignore the warnings. Maybe enough survivors will remain to vote out the incompetents who steered us into personal and financial tragedy on a mass scale.

Cummings and Government ignore the warnings
Blind or stupid. Certainly arrogant.

The results may have been evident in the displays of thoughtless, careless and senseless crowds in the good weather of the following weekend. Basically, many folk started to believe the rules did not apply to them and we fervently hope a second wave is not the consequence.

Lack of trust in UK Government

Many questions remain, by NHS, Scientists, fellow MP’s and Head of UK Statistics, as to:

  • Why “quarantine” visitors now instead of months ago?
  • Should’nt “Test, track and trace” have started BEFORE the numbers grew?
  • Abroad, trace methods include phone tracking, surveillance camera data, credit card data, etc – why not here?
  • Are there “invalid” numbers of deaths – and test data for that matter?
  • After seeing the examples set by South Korea, Vietnam, Australia and others, why did UK Government ignore the warnings and delay for over a month before taking (the wrong!) actions?
  • Seeing Turkey take very prompt actions, including SENDING test personnel out to suspected victims AND providing results AND contact tracking data WITHIN 24 hours, why cannot the UK do that?
  • Why did UK Government ignore the warnings about pandemics in the reports from 2007, 2011 and Cygnus Report of 2016 – all of which highlighted lack of preparedness, lack of PPE, lack of respirators and vulnerability in Care Homes? They commissioned and paid for these reports!

We try to avoid politics in our blogs but, in this case, many lives are at risk and a floppy-haired child of four could have done better (with a “trusted” Chief Aide, of course!) That is our opinion.

Quarantine for inbound travellers

Well, it’s not a quarantine is it? Quarantine is corralling suspected cases together, while track and trace goes on. Politely asking travellers to self-isolate for 14 days serves no purpose except to continue to cripple the Tourism industry. For reference, the Tourism Sector is the third largest in the UK. (Worth about £127Billion a year, or 8 times as much as TV, Radio and Films together!)

BAME – Groups at special risk from Covid-19

Along with elderly males and those with certain pre-existing conditions, BAME groups appear to be at greater risk from infection and severity. (BAME = Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups).

Worldwide data for Covid-19 deaths, as of 4th May 2020. Deaths per million Population

EU Nations“A”“B”
Belgium 834Philippines 9Dominican Republic 49
UK 598Pakistan 8Honduras 24
Spain 581Afghanistan 8Algeria 16
Italy 556Japan 7South Africa 14
Sweden 446Indonesia 6Egypt 11
France 433South Korea 5Gabon 9
Netherlands 347Bangladesh 5Equitorial Guinea 9
Interestingly, the lowest death rates are for central African countries
although things may change in future data sets.

China, where it all began, has a death rate of 3.3 while India has 4.5. Nations such as Nigeria, Chad, Congo, Cite d’Ivoire, Somalia (etc) are typically below 2.0 death rates so far. Despite highly effective and prompt measures to combat spread and track cases, Turkey has a death rate around 56. The higher susceptibility to infection and death seems to be local to European countries, as yet.

Summary

1. NOT “following the science”

WHO study finds 1 metre is adequate for social distancing. Blindly sticking to 2 metres threatens £137Billion hospitality sector AND 1million jobs.

2. “Doing the wrong thing at the wrong time”

Labour Shadow Home Secretary claims “only 273 people were quarantined during the pandemic period”. However 18 million travellers were allowed in. No wonder the disease spread so fast and killed so many people.

3. Top Italian scientists claim the virus is losing potency

If true, this would explain the fast peak in deaths, followed by a long slow decline in numbers. It also implies all the UK measures were a complete waste of time.

4. “Test, Track and Trace” not going to be useful

WHO studies have shown that asymptomatic cases are not as infectious as first thought. This means test, track and trace needs to focus on the 2 or so days when symptoms show. However, results MUST be much, much faster to be effective (10 minutes approx in many countries!) Also, the programme is at least 3 months too late. UK still does not have enough testing capacity either. (Government ignore the warnings!)

5. Lockdown may have been a waste of time

The UK lockdown was not effective, too late and has cost the economy over £300Billion (and counting!) By contrast, Sweden has had no lockdown and only about 1/8th as many deaths. However, the Swedish economy has hardly been impacted. Unlike ours.

6. Nightingale Hospitals – a white elephant?

NHS London Nightingale Hospital opened on 3rd April, over 2 months after the first Covid-19 case in the UK. As of 4th May it stands empty. Five of the other 6 such hospitals are now open. Meanwhile, in China, the 1000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital opened in Hubei Province on 1st February. It took just 10 days to build and is totally “state-of-the-art”. Nurses can mostly tend patients remotely, minimising carer exposure. The 1600-bed Leishenshan Hospital opened on 8th February. (Engineering and Technology, March 2020, 92-93). Even the Gaza Strip has a large field hospital for Covid-19 patients.

Covid-19 Easing Lockdown – end of week 7/8

Home truths and easing lockdown

It looks like the “tail” of the pandemic plan and easing lockdown is going to be a long. drawn-out affair. We have switched to less frequent blog updates. This update covers a fortnight. The next will cover a month. Meanwhile, we are all hoping for a return to summery scenes before too long.

Easing lockdown in the pandemic plan might just possibly allow for beach motocross event in october
Maybe we can hope to see the Beach Motocross in October

Self isolating and staying at home

At home, we are still self-isolating as much as possible, collective shopping and waving to neighbours from a safe distance. About once a fortnight, we take waste plastic bottles and cans to the recycling bins about 300 yards away. This is simply to prevent blocking of our fire exit. The neighbourhood online quizzes have stopped briefly, while we pause to think of new tricky questions.

WHO online training courses for Covid-19

Recovery – easing lockdown

We are also pondering the weekend (week 7) announcements about slight easing of lockdown, with a degree of trepidation. Uncertainty remains about exactly how our business would cope with working under the present pandemic plan. We have re-opened bookings for January 2021 but will probably not serve breakfasts. This would be to protect guests via maintained social distancing.

Seafood Festival
Seafood Festival – maybe back in 2021

Problems facing the Tourism Industry

There is an excellent and rather comprehensive article online in “The House”, which outlines current problems facing the hospitality industry. At risk is the £127 Billion-a-year UK Tourism industry and the livelihoods of 3,1 million workers in 300,000 businesses. These figures include 8% of the Nation’s workforce and the third largest industry sector in Britain.

The article suggests the impact of the Covid-19 emergency and lockdown is equivalent to three consecutive winter seasons. Certainly, in our case, we lose an average of £3,000 – £4000 per month in winter because of fixed costs. It takes us till mid-July to start to break even – and that is not going to be possible this year. Many colleague businesses are in far worse shape than us.

Aaran House frontage
Aaran House frontage

Gaps in Government help for Tourism businesses

The report goes on to highlight dependent businesses, such as Tourism Travel companies and booking agents. Such groups do not receive any Government support presently. Further, the many suppliers, delivery drivers, repair firms and specialist infrastructure firms are also at financial risk and facing very uncertain futures. The Tourism landscape is going to be pretty bleak for a long time after Covid-19 has been and gone.

(Below is a quasi-political section which readers can skip if they wish – at least it’s not our usual “science-y” section! It includes a brief description that shows British planning was years ahead of other Nations. BUT our complacency and austerity tripped us up when action was actually needed.)

Covid-19 Lock Down – End of week 6

Gradual easing of lock down soon?

Some of the statements in Thursday’s Government Briefing suggested that the process of untangling lock down may be starting soon. Next week, the Cabinet advised by SAGE (Science Advisory Group) and NHS, will be looking at the potential for easing restrictions in some situations. Of course, actual easing is still weeks or months away, but a plan is being considered.

Zumba classes on Weymouth Beach
How long before we again see Zumba classes on Weymouth Beach?

In our specific case, we would need several weeks notice. We would need to finish maintenance and repairs, re-hire cleaner(s), deep clean and re-stock. Most of our existing stock has gone out-of-date and would need disposing. All the bedding in all rooms would need stripping, laundry and replacing. Most difficult, we would need to re-establish our presence online, publish availability and try to get customers again. Our review scores and listing rank have been dropping steadily throughout the crisis.

Rainy day Tuesday

We have seen much drama during the covid-19 lock down but the effect of a little rain on Tuesday was spectacular. Suddenly, there were no cyclists, no joggers, no kids on the beach and only the regular dog walkers. Meanwhile, the Pavilion carpark contained vans instead of the usual cars. It was like flicking a switch from “normal Weymouth” to “Gobi Desert” – only with rain. We imagined hundreds of dogs in lock down, crossing their legs and whimpering to go out. We hope the general public has not been confusing the “sunshine” vitamin D with immunity.

George and Fred. A cheeky pair of rascals who get a walk every day, come rain or shine

UPDATE: It was raining again on Wednesday. We saw two dog walkers, one lady jogger and a walker. Traffic was a little less absent. The sun came out in the afternoon, along with kids on the beach, dog walkers and cyclists on The Esplanade. Nice to see the place looking more normal again.

JUST SEEN: Wednesday Morning: Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds have had a baby boy this morning. It is great to have some good news among all the gloom.

Sunniest April since the 1800’s

For a decade or so, locally we have needed a prolonged spell of sunshine in Spring to kick start the season. We finally get the good weather and look what we got with it! Alanis Morissette and “Ironic”.

Covid-19 lock down – end of week 5

Many attempts at making a vaccine – some reaching initial trials phase

Meanwhile, at home we remain self isolating

We are still self-isolating at home. The Missus makes the occasional shopping trip, including a couple of neighbours’ requirements. Meanwhile, about once a week, I make the short trip to the bottlebank 300 yards away to get rid of cans and bottles. The rest of the rubbish cannot be dealt with currently, since we have no collection and the Tip is closed. The Missus is baking fruit pies and the neighbours are baking cakes. Nobody is starving!

Social Distancing – some observations

We are not ONS or National Census but we have noticed a few changes resulting from social distancing and lock down. We overlook both the Beach and the Harbour so see everyone out and about during the day. It is nice to see folk enjoying the marvellous sunny weather, exercising and keeping well apart from each other. However, there may be increased accidents as cyclists fail to negotiate the old railway tracks along the Harbourside.

  • Roughly 5 times as many cyclists
  • About 3 times as many joggers
  • A few more gull and crow feeders on the beach
  • Similar numbers of rough sleepers and “drinkers”
  • Initially, twice as many pensioners, now normal numbers
  • Fewer families and groups

Weymouth- business almost as usual

It is quite encouraging to see life in Weymouth carrying on unperturbed, despite self-isolating. People are still able to walk on the Beach, exercise their dogs and make short journeys for essential purposes. Of course, the pubs and restaurants are suffering badly from abruption of cash flow, as are guesthouses, hairdressers, nail salons, cafes, etc. Most have had to spend many £1000’s to prepare for the season and now find there is no income on which to survive till Winter. Nationally, we have seen a number of major restaurant chains collapse into administration, along with high street shopping outlets.

Even worse, the Fishing Charter captains are finding they still need to pay mooring fees, insurance, fuel and maintenance costs with no Government or insurance payout to help. (#Unsurance !) At least the commercial fishing fleet can still continue, to supply Weymouth with top quality fresh seafood daily. We are among many guesthouses facing expensive cancellations by groups of fishermen but at least most of us can claim the small business rate relief payment.

Making a Vaccine – the Global effort

According to ABC News from last month, there are 6 leading contenders for vaccine development, with varying timescales for implementation.

  • mRNA-1273 – Moderna Therapautics, codes for “spike” proteins, skipped straight to human trials, Phase 1 safety trials expected to end June 2021
  • Ad5-nCoV – Beijing Institute, viral vector (carrier) method, Human testing underway in Phase 1, hoping to be as successful as similar Ebola Vaccine, already in Phase 2, safety testing December 2020
  • ChAdOx1 – Oxford University, simultaneous Phase 1/2 testing underway, inactivated carrier vector virus from Chimpanzees, said to be closer to human genome, prognosis May 2021
  • BNT162 – Pfizer/BioNTech, mRNA type, Pre-clinical trials, similar to Flu vaccine, human trials start in USA/Germany this month.
  • INO-4800 – Inovio Pharmaceuticals, “Cellectra” device injects DNA coding immuno-generative proteins. Earlier work on similar MERS and HPV vaccines well advanced. Human trials start this month.
  • Sanofi Recombinant DNA – Engineered DNA, similar to SARS vaccine work. Successes with Flublock and Fluzone vaccines for flu. Human trials may start this month.
  • Around 40 drug treatments are being investigated Worldwide but with no promising candidates as of March 31st.

South West UK has been lucky so far

Covid-19 Lock Down – Easter Weekend and end of week 4

Beautiful weather over the Easter weekend but most people stayed home

The weather was beautiful over the Easter Weekend but most people stayed home. The Beach and Harbour were almost deserted at a time when they would normally overflow with visitors. On Easter Monday we could see only two fishing vessels from our viewpoint overlooking the middle Harbour. A number of photographers were out-and-about taking images of empty streets and the Beach.

Essential keyworkers returning with fish to Weymouth Harbour on Easter Monday

Last Easter weekend weather

Last Easter, the weekend weather was the hottest on record. Our reward from a couple of guests was a complaint it was too hot (they left the radiator on, mind you!) Apparently it was equally warm in 1949 but this year, though very sunny, was not quite so hot. We have a couple of photographs from last year for you.

Historically, most Easter weather has been mainly dry but plagued with cold winds. Bad weekends include 1958, 1964, 1966, mid-90’s and 2013.

This week’s scienc-ey stuff

We repeat, we are not experts but are just listing a few interesting references from people who are. We hope we can distract folk away from all the fake news out there (e.g. 5G masts!) Note that the bottom item (China Global Television News website) often refreshes URL links so that item may disappear soon. Later in the week, the weather broke, leading to showers and cloudy spells. However, Weymouth Esplanade, Beach and Harbour remained quiet, with just the occasional person exercising or walking their dogs.

Covid-19 Lock down – End of week 3

UK Government and NHS are hopeful we may be seeing the flattening of the curves for infection.

Some good news

At the end of week 3 of Covid-19 Lock Down, we are all hoping for some good news on the horizon. Last night’s briefing from 10 Downing Street appeared to offer a small ray of hope. It appears possible the rate of infections, intensive care occupancy and deaths might be starting to plateau. Of course, nobody can be certain yet but it is something to hope for. (Sadly, UK deaths rose by nearly 2,000 in the 48 hours since this draft).

Weymouth Harbour in the Spring sunshine, eerily quiet

We can still enjoy the Beach and Harbour here in Weymouth, mostly from behind windows. The fishing fleet and fish market are still operating for essential food supplies. We hope everyone will stay safe and soon be able to move freely again and get out in the fresh air, to enjoy the sights first hand. Meanwhile, at the end of week 3, we are minimizing shopping, staying home and trying to keep our friends safe and cheerful. (Not sure my tricky quizzes are really helping!) We noticed fewer over-70’s outside and most folk are being much more sensible over non-essential outings.

Hope on the horizon – end of week 3

  1. The Government small business grants are starting to be paid
  2. Councils, banks and utilities are starting to help
  3. University of Pittsburgh is one of many groups working on possible vaccines. They claim initial success although safety trials may take many months.
  4. There is some evidence that increased testing coupled with contact tracking can improve the effectiveness of lock down measures (see data for South Korea, China and Germany in latest UK GOV briefings)

Some less good news

At the end of week 3 of the Covid-19 lock down, we are still worried in some areas. Scientific reports give some cause for concern while trolls and conspiracy theorists are having a field day. We are trying to weed out the real news from the fake.

  1. Dorset Echo reports 10,000 elderly people in Dorset are at increased risk from Covid-19
  2. It is also reported there is anger at people travelling to second homes in Dorset maybe bringing the virus with them from London and other major infection centres.
  3. There are still up to 30% over-70’s walking around against NHS advice to self-isolate
  4. Everyone is touching every hard surface outside with carefree abandon, despite clear advice the virus can live up to 4 days on hard surfaces
  5. There has been an unwelcome crop of conspiracy nuts, vandals, online trolls and plain criminals, “rejoicing” in the emergency
  6. Insurance companies are mostly refusing to pay out on business interruption policies, despite allegedly being paid themselves via reinsurance policies they hold.
  7. Some scientific research suggests the virus has actually transferred from hard surfaces, people who show no symptoms and animals and possibly insects they have been in contact with.
  8. A possibly unscientific source (Surfer Magazine) claims coastal breezes may carry the Covid-19 virus far further than 6 feet. The article quotes a “Virus expert” likening airborne range of virus particles to that of cigarette smoke particles. (Note: NOT validated by UK Gov, NHS or CDC (etc) as yet).
Stay home, protect NHS, save lives
Stay home, protect NHS, save lives