The world feels rather upside down at the moment but the Welsh government has just announced that the ‘stay local’ rule (ie stay within 5 miles of home as far as possible) is to be relaxed on Monday 6th July 2020.
Wales is starting to reopen gradually, subject to rules including strict social distancing of 2 metres, only meeting one other household even outdoors and hand hygiene.
We will continue to monitor government advice and regulations and to work with other operators but we have no immediate plans to reopen to passengers. We’re taking this decision with a heavy heart because we know how disappointed people will be. We’ve had some lovely emails and phone calls from people wanting their annual jet boat fix or to experience it for the first time. Thank you to everyone for being so understanding when we’ve had to say no for now.
Before we look at reopening we have to be confident that we can ensure that requirements for 2-metre social distancing in particular can be assured not just on the boat but in the boarding area, an area we and other operators all share with the general public.
We are having detailed and constructive discussions with other operators (socially distanced!) concerning ways forward. Now more than ever we need to look after each other, each other’s crew and passengers and of course the public.
We expect to put the boat back in the water soon and that will give us a better idea of how things work in practice. We’ll let you know how different masks fare at sea 🙂 .
The good news for those of you wanting to see Pembrokeshire again is that self-contained accommodation (no shared facilites) will reopen all being well on 11th July. Pubs and restaurants can reopen on 13th July if they have outdoor space but as yet there is no date for them to reopen indoor areas.
Our lovely beaches and coastal paths are now open, which is wonderful news for those of us who love to be outdoors.
Outdoor attractions can reopen on 13th July (subject to ongoing successful government COVID review) so long as they adhere to strict social distancing etc. Ramsey Island has taken the decision to remain closed because they would be unable to offer toilet facilities (a big factor in welcoming people to an island for a day) and because of the difficulties of social distancing when boarding and disembarking passengers. Skomer and Caldey also remain closed to the public at the moment for the same reasons. You can read Ramsey warden Greg Morgan’s latest COVID update here.
Risk assessment is all about assessing changing risk profiles and managing them as best one can in order to minimise risk as far as reasonably practicable. This becomes more difficult in an environment which is public, where one has no control over who enters the zone (eg a boarding area) or what they do there.
Some of the things boat owners are having to think about:
Social distancing – 2 metres in Wales – both on boats and in boarding areas.
Managing the requirement that people should only meet one other household even outdoors.
Disinfection of boats and life jackets after each trip.
Use of additional measures such as masks, visors and gloves – and the impact of water.
COVID safety and first aid in the context of social distancing eg if someone has a heart attack or simply feels unwell and needs assistance in a boarding area or on a boat.
COVID safety in an emergency. We all have training for events which are extremely unlikely (mostly unheard of in our area) but nonetheless possible. To our knowledge no-one has ever had to use their liferaft in this area for example but we all carry them and we all have to have procedures for them.
We have a responsibility to our passengers and crew and those of other operators but also to the general public who enjoy St Justinian and to the wider community.
The virus is new and we’re all learning to live with it as best we can whatever our work and social environment. As a community here people are being really good at managing this new risk. As we welcome more people back to Pembrokeshire we’ll all need to adjust as best we can to keep everyone as safe as possible.
We realise that to those of you who have been through dramatic city COVID-19 outbreaks Pembrokeshire must look like a lovely safe space with all its open air. It is a lovely space with lots of fabulous fresh air but some of its smaller beaches and harbours don’t lend themselves easily to social distancing.
Please bear with us all as we work out practical ways forward. Above all else please enjoy the outdoors. There’s a lot of it in Pembrokeshire – we just need to work out how to share it a bit differently.
In the meantime we’ll wave warmly from a distance of at least 2 metres. We may be a bit less recognisable if we need to adopt masks and visors but Vertical is pretty recognisable and Shearwater is a fairly distinctive bright yellow and shiny aluminium 🙂 .
Big socially distanced hugs to everyone.
Beth, Tim and Vertical
Please note: information is correct to the best of our knowledge on 3rd July 2020. It will inevitably be subject to change. Please check government websites for updates and remember that regulations and recommendations will vary at times between the different countries in the UK.
The Welsh Government site has information on COVID-19 here.
The BBC has updated its page on the new Coronavirus regulations in Wales here.