On the 12th of March 2020, an Taoiseach announced that schools, childcare facilities, and universities were to close due to COVID-19. Therefore, Lir-NOTF was directed by the President of UCC to close and has suspended testing.
Although the test schedule has been deferred, staff have continued to work - with the added overnight responsibilities of becoming teachers, carers, or early childhood education experts! Lir-NOTF staff have used this downtime in the test schedule, to conduct a forensic audit of our quality and operating systems. INAB accreditation continues to be a vital milestone and we are endeavouring to pursue accreditation. Work has also commenced on the health and safety documentation for several long term EU funded projects, which we hope will be successful and would benefit the test capability of the lab.
Disruptions and Impacts
Several clients have had their tests disrupted, which range from the offshore wind to wave energy sector. MaRINET II has especially suffered as the third call was due to be completed by June. Thankfully, this project has been granted an automatic extension with the possibility of merging into the fourth call for the effected companies.
Commercial projects have also been delayed. We await an agreed date for when we can reopen the facility for testing. The supply chain for model fabrication has ceased. Suppliers are no longer open and worryingly like many other SMEs throughout the country they are unsure if they will commence operations once this period of closure has ended.
Until the fifth of May, 185 testing days will have been lost along with substantial amounts of revenue which is no longer available. However, if this closure has saved one person from contracting COVID-19 these measures will prove to be worthwhile. Public safety is the highest priority at present. We remain in contact with the affected companies and are trying where possible to meet their needs.
What will the recovery look like?
When Lir-NOTF is allowed to reopen, we do not expect non-staff to be on-site testing for some time due to different populations’ exposure to the virus. We have explored the possibility of providing a live steaming service to meet this challenge. Our objective is that we can continue to offer the same or enhanced level of service working within the future restrictions and onwards.
Until we can reopen the facility we remain available to discuss testing needs or the project proposals developers would like to offer.