The Hustle

The rise of coronavirus vigilantism

March 31, 2020

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That’s Not Very Distant

‘Escape communities’ are the newest hideaways from the pandemic

If you’re self-isolating inside a studio apartment and yearning for a getaway, some enterprising entrepreneurs may have a solution for you.

The Information calls them “escape communities” — small-group gatherings in remote locales where people can pay to ride out the pandemic in comfort and style.

Think of it like a yoga retreat for the Bad Times — a gentler (and crunchier) spin on the booming doomsday economy.

It sounds relaxing, but the journey could be harrowing. Reports of coronavirus vigilantes — AKA neighbors who want to keep folks quarantined — are enough to make us think twice about skipping town.

You’ll face a few hurdles if you go for it

First of all: You’ll have to pay big bucks to get access. Harbor, “a luxury 2-month retreat” in Southern California, lists accommodations that start at $3k per month. 

Residents will be screened for COVID-19 before being admitted, and they’ll have “zero interactions with the external world.”

Speaking of being admitted: Yes, you have to apply to join the club.

Are these elite clubs actually safe?

Health experts told The Information that it would be very easy for a single infected individual to spread the disease to others in a small community.

The disease might not be the only thing to worry about, either. 

Well-heeled jet-setters still actually need to get to their sanctuaries. Traveling there could violate a state’s shelter-in-place order… and the arrival of wealthy out-of-towners seems VERY likely to piss off the locals.

Take your getaway and get the hell away

That’s what many small-town residents have told the Johnny-come-latelies who try to decamp to their 2nd homes for a few months. An influx of new cases could quickly overwhelm a small town’s healthcare system.

Those fears have given rise to an unusual new phenomenon: coronavirus vigilantism. Nah, that doesn’t sound like it’s straight outta The Purge at all.

In the island town of Vinalhaven, Maine (winter population: 1.2k), residents allegedly cut down a tree in an attempt to forcibly quarantine roommates from New Jersey who had been renting a home in the area. 

The roommates had been in town for months, working on a construction job. The homeowner apparently used a drone to monitor the angry neighbors until the cops arrived.

The Hustle Zoom

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The world is in a state of crisis, but your board doesn’t have to be

These are unprecedented times we’re living in, and things are tough for all of us. 

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As the World Turns

The coronavirus is doing some strange things to our carbon footprints

In some places, the skies are clearer and the streets are cleaner. But we’re setting down our bamboo travel knives in the War on Plastic, and reusable bags went out of fashion quick.

Those are just a few of the unusual ways that the new coronavirus has changed the shape of our carbon footprints.

That means blue skies for Mother Earth 

Air pollution in some European cities is down significantly thanks to widespread lockdowns. In Madrid, average nitrogen dioxide levels dropped by 56%.

Meanwhile, the oil market is evaporating. On Monday, US oil prices dropped to an 18-year low.

At the same time, Big Plastic is making a comeback

The plastic-bag lobby (yes, that’s a thing) is trying to throw out bans on single-use bags. Last week, Massachusetts did just that, and also said reusable ones would be verboten.

The goal is to reverse the spread of COVID-19, but the science behind the germy debate is hotly contested.

The long-term forecast might not be so sunny

The global garbage biz is expecting to deal with a giant, stinking pile of medical waste.

When the pandemic eventually subsides, experts say global emissions could shoot back up unless governments place permanent restrictions on industrial manufacturing.

And analysts are worried that growth in renewable-energy projects could be “wiped out” this year, reversing recent gusts in the wind and solar-power markets.

How do you know when an idea is worth $2B?

It’s part science, part art. 

But if you want our advice, listen to somebody who’s already had a $2B idea.

That person is Gagan Biyani, the Co-Founder of Udemy — one of the largest online course marketplaces valued north of $2B. 

This Thursday he’ll be presenting how he identifies and evaluates business ideas and opportunities using real-world examples from Gagan’s impressive resume — companies like Udemy, Sprig, and Lyft to name a few. 

This live lecture will be available to all Trends members. You can sign up to reserve your spot here

The details: 

What: Trends Lecture: Ideating 101, Lessons from the Trenches
Who: Gagan Biyani, Co-Founder of Udemy
When: Thursday 4/2 @ 12pm PT / 3pm ET
Where: Virtual!

Reserve your spot! →
Pandemic, Explained

Here’s a guide to commonly used (and confusing) coronavirus terms

What’s the difference between a furlough and a layoff? WTF is “force majeure?”

As the coronavirus crisis continues to develop, it can be hard to keep up with the terminology that’s used to describe it. So we made a guide to common (and commonly confused) coronavirus terms.

Paid leave vs. furloughs vs. layoffs

Paid leave: An employee gets time off but continues to receive pay and benefits.

  • Starbucks offered employees 14 days of “catastrophe pay” (even if they’re not sick).

Furlough: When an employer temporarily suspends an employee without pay but often continues to provide benefits. 

Layoff: When an employer indefinitely dismisses an employee. 

  • Companies of all sizes, from General Electric to Bird, have instituted layoffs of as much 30% of their workforces.

Shelter in place vs. lockdown vs. quarantine

Exact rules vary by location (check The New York Times’s running list here), but generally:

Shelter in place (AKA “stay at home”): Residents are asked to remain in their homes (except for essential travel).

  • All but 6 states had imposed some type of stay-at-home advisory as of March 30, but they typically lack enforcement mechanisms. 

Lockdown: Residents are required to stay in their homes (except for essential travel). Nonessential businesses are often required to close. These orders are sometimes enforced by fines and military personnel.

  • France and Italy are both requiring citizens to get certificates to leave their homes (even for essential travel).
  • No US states had imposed a full lockdown (as of March 30), but several counties in the Bay Area imposed fines for noncompliance.

Quarantine: Residents who have been exposed to or infected by the virus are required to limit their movement.

  • Florida and Kansas are requiring travelers from hot spots (like New York and California) to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Hawaii and Rhode Island are requiring all travelers to self-isolate for 14 days.

One other important term to know:

Force majeure: a clause in a contract that lets a company off the hook for obligations in the event of an unforeseeable catastrophe (like, say, a global pandemic).

  • Platinum mines used the clause to avoid violating contracts.
  • NBA teams are considering using the clause to do the same.
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Social Distancing

Goodbye, ‘Time Out.’ Hello, ‘Time In.’

For the 1st time in its 52-year history, Time Out — the events magazine with popular editions in New York and London — is looking within.

Many moons ago (OK, a few weeks ago), Time Out was a hub for concerts, art festivals, bar openings, and restaurant deals. But as COVID-19 kneecaps the events economy, Time Out is rebranding as Time In, according to a red strikethrough on its homepage. 

Now Time In is posting about “the best things to do at home right now,” the NYC restaurants “offering care packages with games and toilet paper,” and a Social diStitching embroidery mixer hosted on Instagram Live.

Tons of publications are homing in on a new business model  

Most of the traffic to Eater NY comes from its restaurant-mapping feature — which is not exactly in high demand at the moment. To stay afloat, the digital food magazine launched Eater at Home, a new section with tips on making sourdough, cooking with miscellaneous pantry items, and organizing your freezer. 

They’re not the only ones suddenly housebound: 

  • The travel website Culture Trip is launching a #StayHomeStayCurious section that offers tips on how to “experience” cities like Prague, Seoul, and Tokyo by streaming museums and cooking dishes from your home.
  • Lonely Planet is recommending books to “get you dreaming of European travel” in the hope that at some point, in the distant future, people travel again.
  • Even the beloved Test Kitchen video stars from the magazine Bon Appétit are pivoting to home cooking.

💰Good news for beleaguered hosts: Airbnb is earmarking $250m for hosts whose guests cancel their reservations because of COVID-19.

🎨 A Van Gogh painting was swiped from a museum in the Netherlands that’s closed to visitors because of the pandemic.

📖 An unusual feud in the publishing biz: The Internet Archive’s “National Emergency Library” gave people access to 1m+ digitized works. But many writers say it’s piracy.

😷 Hooray for the hive mind: An army of tinkerers is rising up to fight the pandemic.

🌮 Taco Bell is going big for Taco Tuesday: You can get a free taco today.

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