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I followed the rules and had a test. Not a single official looked at it today

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This weekend I flew to Paris for a few days. To walk unfamiliar streets after so many months of being in the same neighbourhood was a joy. The joy ended yesterday afternoon when I tried to check in online for this morning’s flight.

Like everybody else arriving in Ireland, I would need a digital Covid certificate, to show I was fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid in the past 180 days; plus proof of either a certified negative antigen test, taken in the 48 hours before arrival, or a certified negative PCR test, taken in the 72 hours before arrival.

You can get antigen tests in pop-up tents around Paris. The tent that I went to, at Les Halles, in the centre of the city, was affiliated with Paris’s public hospital system. A test cost €30 on a Sunday, or €25 on a weekday.

I waited. And waited. I couldn’t check in without completing the form. I wasted two precious hours of a day in Paris trying to complete a process that seemed impossible to complete

The result – negative – was emailed to me. What would have happened if it had been positive? Would I have had to stay on at my hotel, to quarantine? What if it was booked out? It didn’t have a restaurant, so would I have needed to live on take-out three times a day for days? How much would all that have cost? What about missing work? I couldn’t find any Irish Government information about what to do if I tested positive abroad – even though the law of averages suggests this must be happening to some Irish people.

Before travelling I had downloaded Verifly, an app that Aer Lingus and other airlines use to enable their passengers to upload travel documents for pre-flight verification. This is where things began to go south. I uploaded my negative result. “Your Covid test is going through a manual review process. This is where we check to ensure it meets the necessary requirements. We will reply to you once the review process has been completed.” That’s what the app kept reporting. What was the point of getting an official test if this was what was happening after it was received?

So I waited. And waited. I couldn’t check in without completing the form. And I couldn’t complete the form without completing this step. I wasted two precious hours of a day in Paris trying to complete a process that seemed impossible to complete. So, rather than waste even more time, I decided to check in at the airport instead, something I hadn’t done in years.

This morning I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport a good two hours before my 10.05am flight. There was a huge queue at the Aer Lingus desks. Nobody else I spoke to had been able to complete their Verifly forms, either, and everyone was frustrated and confused. One couple realised on Sunday that their antigen tests, for which they had paid €45 each, would be 48 hours and 10 minutes old by the time they arrived. In fact their tests were probably going to be even more out of date than they thought, as when the rules say a test must be taken in the 48 hours “before arrival”, that surely means arrival in Ireland, not arrival at the airport. But, again, who knows?

The couple, who had three small children, were extremely anxious about being refused boarding – no test centre had been open nearby on Sunday for them to get retested. They made it through.

 

A French passenger without a test, who appeared unaware of Ireland’s new entry requirements, was sent away to an airport pharmacy for testing. She wasn’t going to make the 10.05am flight – and, from the tears she was shedding, she knew it.

At check-in I wasn’t asked to produce my test. I was asked instead for a passenger locator form. The passenger at the next desk was asked for her test, so checks seem to be random. Check-in took about 75 minutes. Then there were long queues at border control, plus security to get through. I was not asked at border control for anything other than my passport. By then it was 9.55am – we had less than 10 minutes to get to the gate.

But the flight did not leave at 10.05am. It left at 10.50am, and even then not all passengers made it aboard.

Before we landed in Dublin one of the cabin crew announced: “Due to new Government regulations, passengers arriving into Ireland must produce a negative antigen or PCR test, or else face a fine of €5,000 or six months in prison. Welcome to Dublin.” (Later, I checked the Government website. It said that passengers who arrive without a negative result must quarantine at home and have a PCR test within 36 hours of arriving in Ireland. A fine and imprisonment could be imposed where an individual repeatedly failed to present the receipt for their passenger locator form.)

At passport control most passengers went through the automatic, biometric gates. I passed through a manned desk. I was not asked for my test result. Officials told a passenger at another desk that they are asking one in 20 passengers at passport control for proof of a negative test.

I asked my official if anyone was checking passengers who were going through biometric gates for their test results. “No, nobody,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “I don’t think these new rules will last long.”

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Liverpool ONE welcomes Tessuti (GB)

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Grosvenor has announced that designer retailer, Tessuti, has opened its new global flagship store at Liverpool ONE, demonstrating the brand’s ongoing vote of confidence in the destination. The new location on Paradise Street follows Tessuti’s consistently strong performance at Liverpool ONE and spans two floors measuring 22,000ft². Boasting Tessuti’s biggest store to date, this is four times the size of the previous Liverpool ONE site. The store interiors have been styled with a subtle nod to classic Italian architecture whilst incorporating state-of-the-art technical features, combining classic design with an industrial-chic colour palette and cutting-edge digital screens. Working with local Liverpudlian digital and production agency Liquid, the new Tessuti store has exclusive instore stills and videos showcasing exciting campaigns; the first of which is rumoured to feature Liverpool stars Stephen Graham, Abbey Clancy, Miles Kane and Chelcee Grimes.

 

Aligning with Liverpool ONE’s community ethos, Tessuti’s new global flagship will also support the vibrant community in the heart of Liverpool, championing local businesses through collaborations, pop-ups, and in-store events.

 

Alison Clegg, Managing Director, Asset Management, Grosvenor, commented: “Tessuti’s commitment to Liverpool ONE, through its relocation within the destination and decision to make the new store its global flagship, strengthens our position as one of Europe’s leading retail and leisure destinations. The impressive growth trajectory of Tessuti within Liverpool is a great indication of the potential for success and expansion of other brands that join Liverpool ONE.”

 

Chris Rowan, Director of Brand & Customer Connection at Tessuti, added: “The opening of our global flagship at Liverpool ONE is a huge moment for us. Liverpool is an urban hub for international fashion retailers, so upsizing and relocating within the city’s leading retail and leisure destination was a natural next step. We feel confident that it is the ideal home for our flagship location, and are excited to offer Liverpool ONE’s visitors our most stylish project yet.”

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What you need to know about having a home swimming pool

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This summer, it’s not just sales of rosé wine and ice cream that have rocketed during the heatwave. Interest in swimming pools has also surged.

‘This sweltering summer has undoubtedly inspired people to install swimming pools,’ says Sallie Leslie-Golding of the Swimming Pool and Allied Trade Association (SPATA). 

‘There are now 270,000 in-ground pools in the UK, with about 65 per cent of them in the southern half of the country.’

There is something incredibly glamorous about a Hockney-blue pool. But how does the reality match up to the imagery?

Refreshing: Church House in Potterne, Wiltshire, is on sale for £1.95m. Interest in swimming pools has surged with the hot weather

Refreshing: Church House in Potterne, Wiltshire, is on sale for £1.95m. Interest in swimming pools has surged with the hot weather

‘It’s been wonderful to be able to take a swim at the end of a long day,’ says Felicity Cooper, 55, who in 2006 installed a 12m x 6m pool outside her country house in Potterne, near Devizes, Wiltshire. 

‘It has also been great for the children, Lily and Ryan, who learnt to swim here.’

Felicity stresses the importance of finding the right setting for a new pool. 

She ensured hers was west-facing to catch the evening sun; then she went to the trouble of digging out a mini-amphitheatre so that the displaced earth formed a windbreak around the pool itself.

‘The pool is the optimum distance from the house, being not so near that it detracts from the garden and not so far away that anyone in trouble would not be heard by those inside.

‘It is far from trees so few leaves blow into the water and, with the children in mind, it has a top quality safety cover. Felicity’s six-bedroom Jacobean stone house standing in 1.7 acres is for sale for £1.95 million.

Opinions vary as to whether an outdoor pool helps or hinders a house sale. Some think that the hassle of maintenance may be off-putting to buyers. However, the property buying agent, Jonathan Harington, disagrees.

‘I have had many clients come to me with a pool on their wishlist of luxuries,’ he says. ‘But I have never had anyone say they wouldn’t buy a house because of the pool. If they felt strongly they could easily fill it in anyway.’

Yet owning a swimming pool is an expensive hobby. An above-ground pool — like a giant paddling pool — costs from £1,500 to £15,000. These pools may not quite cut it in terms of glamour, but their lower water capacity means maintenance costs are more reasonable.

For those looking at a more substantial in-ground pool, one with a liner finish of PVC will cost about £75,000. A concrete pool, finished with mosaic tiles, marbled plaster or paint will be about £125,000.

Larger projects can easily cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

You may opt for an infinity pool — a pool designed with an edge that gives the illusion that the water is overflowing. 

Those who want to improve their fitness may have a counter current device installed; the equivalent of swimming on a treadmill.

Many pool owners are interested in sustainability and heating the pool with solar panels is popular, as are covers that help heat retention.

Maintaining an outdoor swimming pool is expensive. The cost of heating and chemicals has increased so buyers should budget for at least £8 to £10 a day, dependent on the weather, according to SPATA.

Anyone fancying a workout in their own home may be interested in Ivy Cottage, Grendon, Northamptonshire.

Outside, the four-bedroom cottage is a 10m x 5m pool neatly positioned in the north-west corner to catch the sun.

‘After swimming in the pool, you could go running, riding or cycling on the countless trails nearby,’ says Ian Denton, of Jackson Stops. ‘It’s a lifestyle amenity in your own garden.’ Ivy Cottage is for sale for £825,000.

On the market… splash out 

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Radisson launches new resort in Greece

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Radisson Hotel Group has launched its latest Greek resort in Skiathos. Skiathos, the westernmost of the Sporades islands, is known for its stunning coastline of more than 60 beaches with soft sand and clear blue waters, as well as sea caves, impressive rock formations, and hiking trails on the tree-covered hills along the north shore made famous as the location for the filming of Mamma Mia. The island’s Byzantine churches and monasteries, Venetian-style Bourtzi fortress, and Papadiamantis House with its typical architecture are important parts of the island’s rich history.

 

The resort’s 84 rooms and suites are decorated in a modern, minimalist style, and most of them offer views of the hotel pool or the sea. Private balconies or terraces are available in select rooms, and the resort’s biggest suites feature private whirlpools for ultimate privacy and relaxation. The resort is ideally suited for weddings with its own on-site orthodox chapel and versatile outdoor pool area that offers receptions with stunning views. The main all-day dining restaurant celebrates Greek and Mediterranean flavors on its lunch and dinner menus. The poolside bar offers breakfast treats and late-night snacks as well as a wide selection of drinks and an extensive wine list. For guests looking to keep up their fitness routine, a well-equipped gym is available.

 

“We are excited to offer our guests a fantastic resort experience on the beautiful island of Skiathos, as we continue to expand our Greek resort portfolio. Radisson Resort Plaza Skiathos allows guests to switch off and relax surrounded by stunning natural beauty,” said Yilmaz Yildirimlar, Area Senior Vice President at Radisson Hotel Group.

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