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A roadmap for Optimism


Andy
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Latest CEO Update:

A roadmap for optimism

Dear all,

I wanted to give you a quick update following the publication of the UK’s roadmap out of the Covid crisis yesterday.

Firstly I’m delighted that a roadmap has been announced and that international travel has not been excluded from planning. This is only for the UK of course, but around 85% of customers are Brits and I am hopeful that this will open the door to discussion about equivalent measures in other countries in which we operate.

The news has been greeted positively in the UK. We reported a three-fold increase in reservations yesterday, albeit from quite low levels. It was also our strongest day for bookings since September 2020 while visits to our website rose by nearly 60%.

I can’t thank you enough for this support at such a difficult time for our company. It goes to show two things: firstly we have a loyal customer base desperate to travel with us when the time (and rules) allow. Secondly, there is a pent-up demand to get away this summer; indeed the trends we are seeing at Brittany Ferries have also been reported widely throughout the travel sector in the UK today (23 February). 

I want to be clear about what Boris Johnson said in relation to international travel. Firstly we must await the report of the Global Travel Taskforce on 12 April. This will make “recommendations aimed at facilitating a return to international travel as soon as is possible”.  The British Government will then take a decision on when travel restrictions can be lifted, but this will be no sooner than 17 May (step 3 of the government plan). 

17 May is therefore the key date, a date that vindicates the very difficult decision we had to make not to return certain ships to routes in March as we had originally planned. 

Of course the plan is not the set-in-stone clarity that we would all like. We understand – of course – that the Covid situation is changeable. And I hope we have offered peace of mind for those of you who have already chosen to book with us. Remember that we offer flexible travel options and if you book your accommodation with us at the same time as your ferry there is free Covid insurance and the reassurance of package holiday protection.

On board you have peace of mind too. I don’t need to tell you about the abundance of space on a large ferry and fresh sea air throughout, including in cabins. But it’s probably a good time to remind you the safety measures we implemented as part of our Together and Protected campaign, measures which are now tried-and-tested and which we shall implement again - if necessary - this summer.

Once again, I am very mindful that the roadmap announced yesterday is only the first step and a position being taken in one market, albeit our biggest by quite some way. I would like to reassure everyone in France, Spain and Ireland that we continue to push for a co-ordinated approach to lifting restrictions in all markets, led by science and data of course. 

However, where vaccination rates continue to soar and Covid incidence continues to plummet, I see no reason why restrictions on international travel should remain beyond a reasonable time. We shall therefore continue to lobby for Sea Lane maritime corridors that will allow us to sail - and you to take that holiday you so badly deserve, as soon as it is practical and safe to do so.

Sincerely,

Christophe Mathieu

CEO, Brittany Ferries

Last updated: 23 February 2021

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The announcement yesterday was Boris speaking about England only, it remains to be seen how Drakeford and Sturgeon will decide to go. It might be a little too early to get the bunting out.

Rhys

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COVID has forced us all to change our plans and our expectations. I fear that some have gotten used to the new normal. Many people working from home will struggle to get back to the idea of leaving the house, working in groups and such again. Meanwhile our politicians will have to get used to not having the ability to contain and restrict the people. It will be hard for them to give up that bit of power and may require some encouragement and reminder of what the whole free democratic society thing is all about.

I am annoyed that Easter is so firmly off the cards, it makes me want to buy a cheap sailing boat and see if I can slip under the radar, but at least there is some hope for half term. For those of us that have second homes (it was actually my first home as I could not afford anything in the UK), the need to return is a bit more pressing than to have a bit of a holiday.

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Quote

I fear that some have gotten used to the new normal. Many people working from home will struggle to get back to the idea of leaving the house, working in groups and such again. Meanwhile our politicians will have to get used to not having the ability to contain and restrict the people. It will be hard for them to give up that bit of power and may require some encouragement and reminder of what the whole free democratic society thing is all about.

I'm afraid I don't recognise that argument at all.

People don't actually want to stay indoors at all but they do want to feel safe and the vaccines are the key to that. Having been vaccinated and with infection rates falling rapidly I do feel safer and will be out like a shot once we can move about more freely.

Whilst some people have embraced working from home, for most it is not ideal either because of the nature of the job or physical circumstances. But a lot of people have been introduced to and welcome the idea of flexible working with some time spent at the workplace with colleagues and some at home with consequential reductions in travelling costs etc. That is not going away anytime soon.

I simply don't believe that politicians actually enjoy confining people to their homes, they all want to be loved and that is hardly the way to do it. However they are well aware of the mistakes that have been made over the last year and are now being very cautious to avoid repeating them.

What does annoy me is the posturing of politicians from the four nations of the UK using the same data to have different lockdown policies and roadmaps just to score points off one another. We all live on the same bit of real estate and it is a scandal that they cannot agree on unified policies.

Edited by cvabishop
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2 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

What does annoy me is the posturing of politicians from the four nations of the UK using the same data to have different lockdown policies and roadmaps just to score points off one another. We all live on the same bit of real estate and it is a scandal that they cannot agree on unified policies

Totally agree. It must be a first

Ian

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4 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

 

What does annoy me is the posturing of politicians from the four nations of the UK using the same data to have different lockdown policies and roadmaps just to score points off one another. We all live on the same bit of real estate and it is a scandal that they cannot agree on unified policies.

I totally agree with this. England, Scotland and Wales in particular should be working together in that we are all joined together. Northern Ireland is a slightly different case since it is a separate island. As a Scot, yesterday's announcement from Nicola Sturgeon felt empty and vague, whilst Boris's announcement gave hope and a time scale. There are a lot of comments on social media that Nicola Sturgeon takes whatever is announced in Westminster and although she broadly agrees with it, she has to Scottish it just to be different and not to be seen to agreeing.

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5 minutes ago, RickOShea said:

Optimism for sure - but we aren't there yet.

"At least 17 May for international travel" does not mean it is definitely possible yet nor that other countries will want holidaymakers.

 

I think to say countries may not want holidaymakers is too much of a dismissive comment.

1 in 10 jobs globally is in tourism, about 330 million. We then need to look at how much it's worth to the global economy, it's about 11% of global GDP, around £6.5 trillion. 

Take France for instance, inbound tourism is directly worth €83 billion and accounts for nearly 1.2 million full time jobs.

It' had the most tourist arrivals in continental Europe, nearly 90 million. You then have Spain, Italy, Turkey & Germany.

You can see first hand the effect Covid has had on the tourism industry in the U.K... and we're only 6th on the list.

Tourism is simply too large and too important to be ignored or refused.

.

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7 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

Greece is thinking of breaking ranks with the rest of the EU and inviting twice vaccinated people from the UK.

Reading some of the reports this is not good news !

If it happened, it would start in May - that implies that the rest of Europe will be later !

The reports also say that the EU will be looking at revising the guidelines for banning third Country residents to include variants circulating as well as the infection rates - that means that even when we have reduced infection rates we could still be banned as the UK variant will be circulating !

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21 minutes ago, David Williams said:

If it happened, it would start in May - that implies that the rest of Europe will be later !

We might hope that it wouldn't be though, and Greece adopting this position would actually allow bookings to be made..

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B.1.1.7 (UK variant) has a very high probability of becoming the predominant strain in Europe and the US as well so variants may not be an issue.

Over 90% of UK infections are the Kent version now, as are around 40% of infections in the Ile-de-France region, and about 20% and rising nationally in France.

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1 minute ago, Shipping Forecast said:

B.1.1.7 (UK variant) has a very high probability of becoming the predominant strain in Europe and the US as well so variants may not be an issue.

Over 90% of UK infections are the Kent version now, as are around 40% of infections in the Ile-de-France region, and about 20% and rising nationally in France.

...and is the dominant strain in Germany.

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1 hour ago, jonno said:

I think to say countries may not want holidaymakers is too much of a dismissive comment.

1 in 10 jobs globally is in tourism, about 330 million. We then need to look at how much it's worth to the global economy, it's about 11% of global GDP, around £6.5 trillion. 

Take France for instance, inbound tourism is directly worth €83 billion and accounts for nearly 1.2 million full time jobs.

It' had the most tourist arrivals in continental Europe, nearly 90 million. You then have Spain, Italy, Turkey & Germany.

You can see first hand the effect Covid has had on the tourism industry in the U.K... and we're only 6th on the list.

Tourism is simply too large and too important to be ignored or refused.

.

My word was "may" :)   I suspect Spain, Greece etc will open up tourism as soon as they can justify it.

But just to show how far things need to move... https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/international-declaration-travel-passengers-uk-b1806289.html things are going to be tougher in short-term.  Also look at the only exemptions for work travel https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-travellers-exempt-from-uk-border-rules/coronavirus-covid-19-travellers-exempt-from-uk-border-rules

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22 minutes ago, RickOShea said:

My word was "may" :)   I suspect Spain, Greece etc will open up tourism as soon as they can justify it.

But just to show how far things need to move... https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/international-declaration-travel-passengers-uk-b1806289.html things are going to be tougher in short-term.  Also look at the only exemptions for work travel https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-travellers-exempt-from-uk-border-rules/coronavirus-covid-19-travellers-exempt-from-uk-border-rules

Yes I'm aware but the discussion was regarding tourist travel from May, not March or April which will still be under strict observation plus your post seemed to allude to countries still reluctant to welcome visitors even if all of the criteria is met.

 

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19 minutes ago, IanN said:

But what will be the dominant strain come May? 

Who knows, whatever it is we will need to live with it or lockdown again and again and again add infinitum 

With your Jab Ian it doesn't matter what the dominant strain is, It's all coronavirus underneath and the spikey protein is found in all of them. You'll probably find that you fight off the common cold far easier and, as an example, the AZ vaccine is derived from the research made on SARS & MERS so there's a good chance you'll have a level of protection there too.

Considering the paranoia surrounding the SA variant it's not really showing the rate of attrition in the host country as was feared then widely publicised. You've got 60m people over there and there has been less cases of Covid than in Poland and the mortality rate is half that of France.

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33 minutes ago, IanN said:

But what will be the dominant strain come May? 

There is a very high probability that it will be UK variant. This is expected to become the dominant strain in the world by the summer.

There are two potential clouds, one being the E484K mutation which changes the spike and makes it more camouflaged from current antibodies, the other is the recombinant version found in the US. However in the UK there are teams working on other ways to detect / attack the virus not using the spike but parts of the main shell, some of these are being tested at the moment.

Edited by Shipping Forecast
Ninjaed by Jonno
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4 hours ago, SRN4 said:

COVID has forced us all to change our plans and our expectations. I fear that some have gotten used to the new normal. Many people working from home will struggle to get back to the idea of leaving the house, working in groups and such again. Meanwhile our politicians will have to get used to not having the ability to contain and restrict the people. It will be hard for them to give up that bit of power and may require some encouragement and reminder of what the whole free democratic society thing is all about.

I am annoyed that Easter is so firmly off the cards, it makes me want to buy a cheap sailing boat and see if I can slip under the radar, but at least there is some hope for half term. For those of us that have second homes (it was actually my first home as I could not afford anything in the UK), the need to return is a bit more pressing than to have a bit of a holiday.

I have never let myself get used to a new normal.  I have a different daily routine that I stick to almost rigidly, only going further afield to Poole once a week to do a big shop.  I have got into a mindset that when this lockdown is over, it will be a case of “right, now where was I”, and get back to proper normal.  Not let myself get set in any new ways, always had my lockdown routine with the knowledge that this is temporary at the back of my mind.  I slipped straight back into life after the first lockdown and will after this one.

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1 hour ago, jonno said:

Yes I'm aware but the discussion was regarding tourist travel from May, not March or April which will still be under strict observation plus your post seemed to allude to countries still reluctant to welcome visitors even if all of the criteria is met.

 

 

But what is the criteria?  There is no internationally agreed criteria for anything here.  The EU has even struggled to agree amongst itself.

I think what's clear when you read the full roadmap document is that there are still lots of unknowns and nervousness around mutations and how the vaccine deals with it.

 

Hence me saying 17 May is very much "best case scenario" - a grounds for optimism but let's not get carried away relying it.  Let's also not forget the politics in this.

Plus we really don't know how other countries will act, the UK being out of the EU doesn't help (not a political comment!).  Yes - I fully believe the countries with strong tourist economies will want to open up but let's not take anything for granted just yet.

Edited by RickOShea
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1 hour ago, Shipping Forecast said:

There is a very high probability that it will be UK variant. This is expected to become the dominant strain in the world by the summer.

There are two potential clouds, one being the E484K mutation which changes the spike and makes it more camouflaged from current antibodies, the other is the recombinant version found in the US. However in the UK there are teams working on other ways to detect / attack the virus not using the spike but parts of the main shell, some of these are being tested at the moment.

Ninja'd? Na... silent assassin please!

SF, data suggests that the work on the N protein is very positive. A harder nut to crack than the S protein targeted by the vaccines now. 

Ironically just as we're seeing with some Immunosuppressants, the Cov virus is showing early signs that it can struggle to gain a foothold in some patients on prescription ACE & ARB inhibitors as it's retarding the virus' ability to to trigger it's own receptor proteins.

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The key date is actually 12 April.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021/covid-19-response-spring-2021

I quote

Quote

The Department for Transport will lead a successor to the Global Travel Taskforce, with an ambition to develop a framework that can facilitate greater inbound and outbound travel as soon as the time is right, while still managing the risk from imported cases and variants. This will look to take a risk-based approach, making use of the suite of measures the Government already has in place such as testing and isolation and the recommendations from the first Global Travel Taskforce last year.

The Taskforce will report to the Prime Minister and work with UK representatives of the travel sector, including airlines and airports. It will report on 12 April, with recommendations aimed at facilitating a return to international travel as soon as is possible, while still managing risk from imported cases and Variants of Concern. Following that, the Government will determine when international travel should resume, which will be no earlier than Step 3. The decision on when international travel can resume will be dependent on the global and domestic epidemiological picture, the prevalence and location of any Variants of Concern, the progress of vaccine rollouts here and abroad, and what more the Government has learned about the efficacy of vaccines on variants, and the impact on transmission, hospitalisation and deaths.

In addition, the Global Travel Taskforce run last year committed the Government to publish a Tourism Recovery Plan in support of the sector. The Government intends to set out proposals in the spring, including plans for a world class marketing campaign to welcome back visitors to the UK as soon as it is safe to do so.

Restrictions on international travel will need to remain in place for the moment. However, following the Taskforce’s report in April, the Government will take a decision on when these can be removed, which will be no earlier than Step 3 (17 May). This decision will be dependent on the global and domestic epidemiological picture, the prevalence and location of any Variants of Concern, the progress of vaccine rollouts here and abroad, and what more we have learned about the efficacy of vaccines on variants, and the impact on transmission, hospitalisation and deaths.

I am not being overly negative here but just I think some (and not just here where the comments are quite measured) are getting carried away we are back to normal from May..this is far from assured.  Though the fact a plan is even on the table is very positive news.

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