Europe Struggling To Cope With Massive Second Waves Of Covid-19 Cases

Europe is in the midst of a second wave of Covid-19 infections that’s worrying many experts who believe this could be much worse than the first round. The continent now accounts for 46% of global coronavirus cases, and nearly a third of total deaths related to the virus. 

Both France and Spain have issued states of emergency within the past month as a means of easing the pressure on their intensive care units. In France, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, more than half of all ICU beds are currently being occupied by Covid-19 patients. 

Dr. Jean-Francois Delfraissy is a senior French physician and the president of the scientific council that has been reporting to the government every week in regards to the pandemic. Delfraissy recently spoke with the press and warned of how intense this pandemic is actually getting for the country, and continent as a whole. 

Embed from Getty Images

“France has lost control of the epidemic, there’s been more than 52,000 new cases reported this week but the council estimates that the true figure could well be closer to 100,000 daily cases, accounting for asymptomatic cases and those who haven’t been tested.”

Currently European countries are testing their citizens for the virus at rates much faster than the first wave back in the spring. New data from the UK also suggests that the antibodies present in individuals who have had Covid-19, that work to protect them from a potential second infection, begin to disappear after a couple of months, leaving all previous patients just as vulnerable as they were to start. 

European countries are also extremely popular tourist destinations, and during the summer Europe relies heavily on their tourism industry for keeping their economy afloat. This dependency caused some countries in Europe to relax their travel restrictions and reopen some of their borders domestically, and to nearby countries, after several months in lockdown. 

Embed from Getty Images

This reopening, however, has unsurprisingly led to a lot of spikes in Covid-19 cases due to an overall sense of relaxation in terms of the virus.  The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control reported that “the median age of people infected declined from 54 during the period of January to May, down to 39 in June and July.” 

When September came around many experts worried about reopening schools and universities and they soon realized their worries were valid as almost a third of new coronavirus cases in Europe within the past two months were related to school re-openings. The number of individuals aged 65 and older who are currently suffering from Covid in France is six times as high as the number of infections in that demographic in September; there are also  five times as many hospitalizations. 

Italy is currently reporting 20,000 cases a day, and a rate of deaths that they haven’t seen since May. Across the continent all bars and restaurants are too close by 6 p.m. and all gyms, swimming pools, and movie theaters have been closed indefinitely. The biggest concern at the moment is the growing pressure Europe’s hospitals will face as cases continue to rise. 

The rate of Covid-related deaths in Europe has luckily declined greatly from where it was in the first wave of the pandemic, which shows that the country has a better grasp on treating the virus, however, the growing number of cases is still a major concern. Covid-19 cases are projected to hit record peaks across the whole globe this winter, so new procedures will likely be put into play in the coming weeks.

NYC Real Estate

International Buyers Investing In New York Real Estate Market

Like every industry in the world currently, the New York real estate market has had to make major adjustments to the way it runs during the Covid-19 pandemic. The biggest adjustment has been for smaller companies coping with a slowing of sales and an oversupply of luxury listings. However, in an unexpected turn of events Italian real estate buyers are seeking to invest their money in New York real estate. 

Italy has obviously taken a major economic toll throughout this pandemic, as they were one of the countries hit the hardest back in March/April. Now, investors from the country are seeing the potential for better deals in New York when compared to the current real estate climate in Italy. 

Embed from Getty Images

Andrea Pedicini is an Italian native who works for the major New York real estate firm, Corcoran. Pedicini recently spoke with the media about how he’s always worked with investors from his home country even before the pandemic, however, as Italy began easing its lockdown restrictions, he noticed a major influx in inquiries from new and repeat clients from the country. 

In times like this, Italians look at New York as literally a safe haven. I’m currently working with more than 30 new leads, all eager to invest in New York-area real estate in the next six to nine months.”

Pedicini also recounted how he, and many other agents, have begun advertising more heavily on social media as a way of attracting more international investors. Sergio Iorio is one of Pedicini’s long-time clients that Pedicini advertises on his accounts. Iorio owned properties in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighbourhood, and the Upper West Side, both of which have doubled in value thanks to the market and Pedicini. 

Embed from Getty Images

While timing the market is always difficult, with the current state of the world clients have more wiggle room when it comes to negotiating, and more sellers are growing desperate. Iorio himself, who is the CEO of Italmatch Chemicals  one of the largest chemical companies in Europe, has been encouraging his investor friends to take full advantage of the situation in New York currently. 

“I would like to continue to invest a percentage of my assets into New York because I believe in the long term.”

Most international investors are mainly interested in townhouses and well-managed smaller boutique buildings, as previously stated, these types of listings are saturating New York’s market right now. Having sellers and agents essentially lose three months of the traditionally very busy spring real estate season has been damaging, but international investments during the summer could help the industry slowly regain momentum as the rest of the economy also recovers. 

However, while there’s been an extreme increase in international buyer interest in New York real estate, most are still waiting to pull the trigger until a new sense of normalcy is brought on by the slowing of this pandemic. Many agents do believe that this interest will help fuel the economy as the months progress, especially considering this is not the first time the industry has endured a lull in sales due to international/national tragedies.

Grand Canal in Italy

Italy Will Begin Easing Out Of Its Covid-19 Lockdown Policies, Prime Minister Announces  

Italy’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, has outlined plans to ease lockdown/quarantine restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Italy has been under strict lockdown for seven weeks now. On May 4th the PM announced that quarantine measures would “begin to relax” and people will be allowed to visit their relatives in small group numbers. 

Other adjustments include the reopening of parks, factories, and certain building sites. All public schools/universities will continue to remain closed until fall 2020. Most churches and other religious buildings will also remain closed for the time being, despite the countless efforts of Roman Catholic Bishops, who have been publicly pleading with Conte to remove the continued ban on religious services. 

As of this past Sunday, Italy has only endured 260 virus-related deaths, which is the lowest it’s been in the country since this pandemic began. There have been a total of 197,000+ cases of Covid-19 and 26,645 virus-related deaths in Italy, which is the highest death toll for Europe in general. Since the numbers in Italy are finally dropping, the authorities believe that the rate in which the virus is spreading has slowed enough to cautiously begin easing restrictive lockdown measures.

Embed from Getty Images

In what Prime Minister Conte is referring to as “phase two” of his coronavirus plan, he agreed to begin allowing people to move around their own regions of living, but not throughout different regions. 

Funerals will be able to resume, however, only 15 individuals are allowed to attend, and ideally, all of the ceremonies should occur outside to avoid any sort of cross-contamination/the touching of any kind of surface. 

Athletes will begin resuming training and people can start practicing recreational sports within the vicinity of their properties, but in wider areas as well. Sports teams will also be able to start holding group training on May 18th, but like with the funeral policy, it’s recommended that all training occurs in an outdoor setting, and with each player bringing in their own equipment when possible.  

Embed from Getty Images

Bars and restaurants will reopen but only for takeout services. Right now, Italy is only permitting restaurants to carry-out delivery services to avoid all contact and enforce individuals to consume their meals at home. On May 4th, everyone will be able to go out themselves to pick up meals that they order. 

Beauty services such as hairdressers, nail-salons, waxing centers, etc. are predicted to reopen when restaurants and bars are actually able to reopen for full service; PM Conte predicts that to occur on June 1st. Conte also plans to ease measures for retail stores, museums, and libraries within the month of May as well. What that specifically entails for those businesses is still unclear, however.

“If we do not respect the precautions the curve will go up, the deaths will increase, and we will have irreversible damage to our economy. If you love Italy, keep your distance,”  the prime minister said.

All face masks in Italy are also capped at a price of 50 american cents, and Conte emphasized that social distancing measures in general will be strictly enforced and continue into the coming months. This is to keep case numbers down, and avoid a resurgence of the virus that would just set the country back to where it started. Time will tell when the rest of the world will catch up to Italy.

Campania Italy

This Italian Town Is Selling Homes For One Euro

Have you ever had the dream of just quitting your job, packing up your things, and flying to Europe to start a whole new life? Well, thanks to a town in Italy which is now selling properties for one dollar a piece, that dream is beginning to seem like a much more feasible reality. 

Bisaccia, Italy is located in the country’s southern Campania region, and they’re working on putting over 90 dilapidated buildings on the market for one euro each. A dilapidated building refers to when “the physical life of a building is beginning to expire, i.e., the building is approaching a condition which would render it unfit for use.” The one-euro plan for these properties is part of a larger initiative from Italy in which they’re trying to save their dying communities and motivate people to move there. 

“Forsaken houses are clustered together, one next to the other along the same roads. Some even share a common entrance. That’s why we welcome families, groups of friends, relatives, people who know each other or investors to join forces. We encourage them to buy more than just one house to actually have an impact and breathe new life,” Francesco Tartaglia, the town’s deputy mayor, tells CNN.

Embed from Getty Images

The extremely low price point, decrepit status of the properties themselves, and overall abandoned ambiance of Bisaccia may seem like a bit of a turn off to potential buyers, however, the opportunity to renovate and rejuvenate a town that once was thriving with culture and life may seem appealing to real estate investors. 

Buyers are expected to renovate their proprietors and bring them up to code with their own finances and ambition, however, as opposed to other real estate policies in Europe, buyers in Bisaccia have no limited time-frame in terms of when the work needs to be completed. Also, unlike other one-euro property villages in Italy, there are quite a few, the original owners don’t have any legal connection to the Bisaccia properties; instead they’re all owned by local authorities, which makes the transactional process much more straightforward. 

“Once a thriving feudal center renowned for its wool-making and artisans, it [Bisaccia] has been hit hard by emigration. A series of severe earthquakes, the last one in 1980, accelerated its population decline. Bisaccia is dubbed the ‘genteel town’ because, despite the hardship, its people have always been respectable, welcoming, hard-working and resilient. Newcomers here are pampered and taken care of. We want this place to shine again,” says Tartaglia. 

Embed from Getty Images

While a majority of the town emulates the quaint and abandoned village aesthetic, parts of it are still very much thriving with shops, families, farmland, and ancient architecture that anyone would travel to Europe to see; including a historical center located at the base of a medieval castle.

In terms of real estate, everyone knows that location is everything, and what Bisaccia lacks in modern architecture it surely makes up for in terms of unique location. The village borders three of Italy’s more popular southern regions: Campania, Basilicata and Puglia, Naples is also close by, allowing for as many spectacular Italian day trips as one could desire.

The town itself has dozens of nature trails for hiking that have been left just as untouched as the homes; a rarity in a world full of deforestation and climate change-induced destruction. Bisaccia also has a bunch of more developed sub-districts that offer fine Italian eateries known by locals for their unique pasta shapes. So while a one-euro home may seem like the biggest surface level scam one could invest in, the logistics of it all are fairly straightforward. Local authorities are offering the chance to be a part of a community that’s ready to be reborn and grow with modern society, all while still maintaining it’s traditional Italian values.

Rocky Mountains

5 Cheap Vacation Spots To Travel To In 2020

A popular New Year’s Resolution for many involves taking in more experiences. Life is short, the news is often depressing, and people just want to live and see the world. Traveling is one of the best ways for anyone to gain knowledge, experience, and a sense of adventure, but the number one thing that gets in the way of all that is the price. 

This year, you don’t have to break your bank in order to have an amazing vacation. There’s always the option to dedicate a few days to having a “staycation” that’s all about you and your wants, but why not dip into your savings just a little to really get yourself out of your comfort zone? While experts have stated that airfare is likely to increase by up to 2% this year, which happens pretty much every year, there are still ways around spending thousands upon thousands for a fun weekend away. 

Our first destination is Bergamo, Italy in the Republic of Venice. This city is typically known by American travelers for its airport, as many land here before heading off to a more standard Italian vacation location such as Venice or Florence. However, Bergamo has all of the beauty and culture that one would want out of a trip to Italy. 

Embed from Getty Images

Bergamo, Italy

Not only do they have a renowned art scene, but Bergamo is known for its outdoor activities, including countless hiking paths and skiing. Additionally the food is exactly what you’d expect from Italy, and is relatively cheap compared to places like Milan. Bergamo is most popular for its Hotel Excelsior San Marco, which has a beautiful rooftop view of the Italian coast, and rooms run for less than $100 a night! Want to travel beyond just Bergamo? Milan is only a 40 minute train ride away which would put you right in the heart of Italy, without hurting your wallet too much. 

If you live in the United States, an obvious and easy solution to saving on travel is to do a roadtrip! Especially if you’re being joined by friends and family who can contribute to gas money, traveling by car is not only cheaper, but more sustainable as well. Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina has risen greatly in popularity throughout the past few years, and it’s thanks to a bunch of roadtrippers who claim the ride alone makes the trip worth it. 

The Southern United States in general is much cheaper compared to other more coastal areas. Every meal can cost you less than $10, and parking for the beach is completely free anywhere you go within Ocean Isle. If you want to tap more into your wild side, you can fish for $1, and walk just about anywhere for some cool new scenery. There’s a ton of family-friendly activities such as mini-golf, arcade play, and community concerts that all will cost less than $20 per person. 

Embed from Getty Images

Eugene, Oregon

Staying on the theme of road-trip travel in the US, look no further than Oregon. Eugene, Oregon to be more specific. Many people disregard cities that are home to major colleges as vacation destinations because they just assume the only thing to do there would be go to a frat party and bar crawl, however, this is not the case for Eugene. 

Eugene is known for its ability to give tourists something to do all year round. “With so many gorgeous wineries just a short drive away, Eugene has plenty to offer. Be sure to check out King Estate for lunch or dinner. In the summertime, enjoy the beautiful view from its expansive patio. Or, in the winter, hunker down by the fireplace while sampling the amazing wines and oysters,” said food and travel photographer Erin Lynch.

Copper Mountain, Colorado is Denver’s western chap cousin. A typical ski lift fee in Colorado will run you anywhere between $200-$250, however, at Copper Mountain the ski lift prices are $140. For $140 you get access to142 trails spanning 2,490 acres, with a summit elevation of 12,441 feet.” The town itself has countless restaurants and bars, all of which have happy hour specials on drinks AND food. 

To finish off our list we’re heading north, to Canada that is. Calgary, Canada is just like Bergamo in the sense that most people only ever go there when they’re experiencing a layover to get to another, more popularized, area of Canada. Calgary, however, offers all the same amenities you’d expect to get from a Canadian vacation, for way less. The Fairmont Palliser is one of the most well-reviewed hotels in the Calgary area, and with room rates starting as low as $130 a night, you can’t go wrong. The Palliser also recently opened their own Dining Room and Bar, making your decisions regarding where to eat much easier. 

All of these locations would make for perfect vacation spots, and while you’ll still have to pay a decent amount, you won’t be breaking your bank as much as you would going to a more standard vacation spot. Forbes recently listed a total of 43 “cheap” vacation destinations around the world that might also inspire your next travel move. 

Venice Flooding

Venice Undergoes Historic Flooding; Mayor Blames Climate Change

The city of Venice is currently suffering from a flood of historic intensity. The highest tide the city has seen in 50 years has overwhelmed seawalls and destroyed docks, flooding roughly 85% of the famous lagoon city. Strong winds have worsened the impact of flooding. Already, two people have died in connection with the floods; an elderly man was electrocuted as he tried to run electric pumps to remove water from his home, and a second person was found dead elsewhere. Additionally, the floods have caused a tremendous amount of property destruction, as boats floated into the streets and countless homes and other buildings were partially submerged.

Embed from Getty Images

According to a statement from Venice’s government, the city was struck by a tide of 187 centimeters, or 73.6 inches, on Tuesday night. This is the worst flood since 1966, when tides of 194 centimeters or 76.4 struck the city. The historic crypt of St. Mark’s Basilica, which has been standing for 1,200 years, flooded for the sixth time in its history. At a news conference, Venice’s mayor, Luigi Brugano, characterized the damage as “enormous,” and said that repairing the city would cost hundreds of millions of euros. He also claimed the flooding was a direct result of climate change, saying, “Now the government must listen… these are the effects of climate change… the costs will be high.” The city’s government will “submit a request for a state of emergency” to the country’s central government, in the hope of securing funds to repair the damage. Schools were closed due to the weather conditions.

Despite the immense level of destruction already, more high water is expected to come in the next several days

People have been seen wading through waist-high water in the streets of Venice, and in some areas the water is high enough to swim in. Tables and chairs from outdoor restaurants floated through the waters, and tourists had to leave through the windows of high-end hotels as six-foot-high water submerged the first floors of these hotels. A few boats used for public transportation in the city sank, and officials worry about the flood’s effect on the integrity of older historic buildings. On Twitter, Mayor Brugano said “Venice is on its knees,” and posted pictures of himself and a religious leader surveying the damage of St. Mark’s Basilica, wading through knee-high water.

Embed from Getty Images

Because he is blaming the flood on climate change, the mayor has argued that serious work needs to be done for the future of the city to prepare for future floods. At the news conference, the mayor shared that while wandering through the city, he “found people in tears because they had lost everything,” adding “if we don’t want the city to be abandoned, we have to give certain answers. It’s not just about quantifying the damages, but about the future of this city.” A similar flood transpired last year, leaving many people homeless and destroying personal belongings. The Catholic church has pledged to provide lodging for people left homeless by the flood, giving priority to people who are the most in need.

Despite the immense level of destruction already, more high water is expected to come in the next several days, much to the dismay of the city’s 262 thousand residents, according to the city’s website. Italy’s Prime Minister, Guiseppe Conte, is scheduled to visit the city and spend the night soon. The country has also invested billions of euros in flood-protection technologies, but this technology has yet to be implemented. This flood-protection system, which is scheduled to go online in 2022 and involves offshore underwater dams, may have prevented the disaster if it had been operative. However, flood barriers are just one of the measures necessary for the city to combat climate change, as elements like the navigability of the canals are also involved.