Day: November 19, 2020

D.C. To Provide $100M In Grants To Hotel, Retail Businesses


Bisnow/Jon Banister

Mayor Muriel Bowser speaking at the New Year New Housing event Jan. 17.

The D.C. government is stepping in to help struggling hotel and retail businesses as the spike in coronavirus cases further damages their revenues. 

Mayor Muriel Bowser Wednesday announced the launch of the $100M Bridge Fund, which will provide grants to an estimated 1,800 businesses in the District. 

The grants will be split among four categories: $35M to restaurants, $30M to hotels, $20M to entertainment and $15M to retail. 

The restaurant grants will range from $10K to $50K and could reach up to 700 businesses. The hotel grants will range from $10,830 to $270,750 for up to 140 hotels. The entertainment grants will be between $4K and $100K and reach up to 400 venues. The retail grants will reach up to 575 businesses with awards ranging from $5K to $25K. 

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, D.C. businesses in the hospitality, entertainment, and retail sectors have made tremendous sacrifices to help us protect residents by combating and containing this virus,” Bowser said in a release. “We remain committed to providing the support and resources that will help them get through these challenging times and eventually cross the bridge to normalcy.”  

The launch comes after the D.C. Council passed a bill in July, introduced by Council Member Kenyan McDuffie, to use CARES Act funds to provide $100M in COVID-19 relief. 

The program modified McDuffie’s proposal and will pull roughly $20M from the CARES Act funds and $80M from local reserves, Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio told the Washington Business Journal. 

Applications for the hotel grants will open Monday, followed by the restaurant, retail and entertainment grants in December. The hotel grants are available to hotels with at least 10 rooms, including those that have been temporarily closed. 

Donohoe Hospitality President Thomas Penny, whose firm owns at least five hotels in the District, told Bisnow he plans to apply for the grants immediately.

“It’s going to allow for us to keep our employees working through the holidays,” Penny said. “It’s a big deal to us because people represent the heartbeat of our business, and we want to see them through this, and this is going to help us do that for more people than we would otherwise.”

Penny said the grants come at a much-needed time, as hotel demand has dropped precipitously in recent weeks. He said hotel occupancies have fallen by at least 33% from October to November, and in some hotels occupancy rates are below 10%.

He attributed the drop to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases across the country leading people to stop traveling. New daily U.S. cases have risen by more than 20% over the last week, with more than 160,000 new cases reported Wednesday, according to the Washington Post. 

This spike in cases has further depressed hotel revenues, Penny said, and he hopes a vaccine can lead to a significant increase in demand by Q2 or Q3. He said the grants will help more

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180 condos, new hotel, retail planned for Enka site


The FIRC Group Inc., based in Asheville, plans to build a 148-room hotel, 180 multi-family condominiums and 10,300 square feet of retail space on a 27-acre site in Enka. These renderings show the hotel and condo buildings. (Photo: Studio Z Architecture)

ENKA – An Asheville hotel company plans to build a 148-room hotel, 180 multifamily condominiums and retail space on a 27-acre site in Enka.

The FIRC Group Inc. has filed an application for the project with the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment, which will conduct a hearing on the proposal at its 9 a.m. meeting Nov. 18. The Board of Adjustment has final say on such projects in Buncombe County.

More: Enka clock tower may be demolished to accommodate large distribution center

FIRC is the company that built the Cambria Hotel in downtown Asheville and the Country Inn & Suites near Westgate Shopping Center. The company, headed by founder and President Tony Fraga, also owns and operates the Haywood Park Hotel downtown.

The Enka project, called “Enka Main Street,” will also include 10,300 square feet of retail space and a new restaurant, Café Verona. Plans call for the project to be built in phases, with a completion date in 2022, according to application documents.

The project will be located off Sand Hill Road, near Smokey Park Highway, behind the Ingles supermarket. The site, which has an address of 1568 Sand Hill Road, includes two parcels, both owned by FIRC.

The property is zoned “Commercial Services,” and the hotel, condos and retail are all allowable under that designation.

While some neighbors have complained about increased traffic in the area, particularly on Sand Hill Road, the traffic impact analysis conducted for the project states it “should not have a significant adverse impact on the surrounding roadway network.” The project will be accessible off Sand Hill Road by the current Ingles entrance, but application documents state the three buildings will have two access points from an existing side road.

In its application, FIRC noted the traffic study indicated “that no improvements are required in order for the connection to be approved (by the N.C. DOT). The project includes an extensive internal sidewalk system, facilitating pedestrian circulation

within the project site.”

The Asheville office of the North Carolina Department of Transportation said Nov. 17 plans do call for widening of N.C. 112 (Sand Hill Road/Sardis Road) from N.C. 191 (Brevard Road) to U.S. 19/23 (Smokey Park Highway).

“We have not vetted any concepts or plans yet,” DOT spokesman David Uchiyama said. “Once the project resumes, we’ll be looking at concepts, going to the public for

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Mint House takes over 70 Pine hotel in NYC, plans design changes for pandemic era

“We are offering as many services as we can for guests who don’t want to leave their suite,” said Alex Herrity, chief product officer for Mint House.


The company is also promoting its cleaning procedures, which were designed with help from Ron Klain, the Ebola czar for President Barack Obama and newly-named chief of staff for President-elect Joseph Biden. Klain is vice president at venture capital firm Revolution, one of Mint House’s investors. 


Travel shakeup


The U.S. Travel Association projects spending on business travel will drop 55% this year, and still be at least 10% below 2019 levels by the year 2024. Amid that shakeup, analysts expect hotels to increasingly adopt technology to limit interaction between workers and guests. Hilton, Marriott and Wyndham have all pledged in recent months to expand contactless check-in and entry options. 


“These types of technologies have gone from a convenience to a necessity,” said Emily Weiss, leader of the global travel industry practice for the consulting firm Accenture. 


Hotels are also turning their attention away from providing lobbies, gyms and other social gathering places. 


“Hotels are facing a new trend I am calling hyper-solo, where business travelers want to be alone or with only their colleague or group,” said Chekitan Dev, a professor in the hospitality school at Cornell University.  


Those changes could sound alarms for workers in the industry, which has already faced mass layoffs in recent months. Automation could accelerate the long-term loss of those jobs, though Weiss said new opportunities could open through providing services to guests outside of traditional check-ins. 


70 Pine


Mint House will employ 12 people to watch over the 70 Pine hotel’s 132 suites. The suites range from 500 and 1,200 square feet, on three floors of the 67-story tower, which otherwise houses apartments but was once the headquarters for Citgo and then AIG.


Mint House did not disclose the terms of its deal to take over the hotel’s management. Lyric, the previous operator, is shifting its focus to hospitality software.


Mint House was founded in 2017 and has raised about $15 million from investors. The firm manages about 500 hotel rooms in Denver, Nashville, Miami and Minneapolis and hopes to grow to as many as 2,000 rooms by the end of 2021, including with more New York locations. 


The company has been advertising in recent months to traveling nurses and government workers, as well as white-collar employees seeking a workspace away from home. After hotel occupancy plummeted in March and early April, levels recovered to about 80% over the summer and have hovered there since, Herrity said.


While Zoom will likely eliminate some types of business travel, Mint House is betting remote work will create demand for hotels to host far-flung workers for visits to the office.  


That type of traveler will stay longer, “want more space and would rather use DoorDash than hotel room service,” Herrity said. “We think we are getting ahead of that trend.” 

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Covid-19 News: Live Updates – The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit…Annie Flanagan for The New York Times

As the United States struggles with surging coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday urged Americans not to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday and to consider canceling plans to spend time with relatives outside their households.

The new guidance states clearly that “the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with,” and that gathering with friends and even family members who do not live with you increases the chances of becoming infected with Covid-19 or the flu or transmitting the virus.

Officials said they were strengthening their recommendations against travel because of a startling surge in infections in just the past week. As of Wednesday, the seven-day average of new cases across the country had surpassed more than 162,000, an increase of 77 percent from the average two weeks earlier.

“Amid this critical phase, the C.D.C. is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” said Dr. Henry Walke, Covid-19 incident manager at the agency, during a news briefing.

“We’re alarmed,” he added, citing an exponential increase in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. “What we’re concerned about is not only the actual mode of travel — whether it’s an airplane or bus or car, but also the transportation hubs we’re concerned about, as well.”

“When people are in line” to get on a bus or plane, social distancing becomes far more difficult and viral transmission becomes more likely, he said.

The agency’s overriding concern is that the holidays may accelerate the spread of the virus, C.D.C. officials said. Older family members are at great risk for complications and death should they contract the virus.

Officials made the pleas to avoid travel even as they acknowledged that the prolonged outbreak has taken a toll on families, and that people are craving connection after months of isolation.

But Dr. Walke warned family get-togethers — especially those that bring different households together — could inadvertently lead to tragic outcomes.

“The tragedy that could happen is one of your family members, from coming together in a family gathering, could wind up hospitalized and severely ill and could die. We don’t want to see that happen,” Dr. Walke said. “This year we’re asking people to be as safe as possible.”

College students returning home for the holiday should isolate themselves and limit interactions with friends on campus before their return, and once home, they should try to limit interactions with family members, trying to interact outside rather than indoors and wear masks indoors if a family member has a chronic condition that places them at risk.

Dr. Walke said he himself is not going to visit his parents, though he has not seen them in many months and they are imploring him to come home, and he has encouraged his own adult and

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Nova Scotia female sport and recreation conference going virtual for 2020 | Regional-Sports | Sports


The Valley Female Leadership Network in partnership with Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic, Sport Nova Scotia and the Province of Nova Scotia will be hosting the annual Shattering the Glass: Females in Sport and Recreation Leadership Conference virtually.

The conference will run from Nov. 21 to Dec. 12 and feature a series of webinars hosted by influential Nova Scotian female leaders. The conference will take place via Zoom.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Wendy Bedingfield who has served on the boards of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport, Canadian Interuniversity Sport and the National Coaching Association of Canada.

The conference targets recreation staff, officials, board members, athletes, volunteers and parents with the goal of promoting and supporting the development of female leaders.

All sessions are free and registration is now being accepted on Eventbrite.

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CDC’s last-minute advice on Thanksgiving travel: Don’t do it

With Thanksgiving a week away, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans to skip holiday travel this year.

The recommendation released Thursday by the CDC was a break from earlier messaging in which U.S. officials have largely declined to issue firm guidance for holiday gatherings, leaving it to American families to decide for themselves whether to risk infection at group events with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging.

The agency’s website suggests that virtual Thanksgivings pose the lowest risk, and that smaller, shorter and outdoor gatherings all help reduce the danger of viral transmission.

“The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people in your household,” said Erin Sauber-Schatz, who leads the CDC’s Community Intervention and Critical Population Task Force, at a briefing with reporters.

The agency now projects a grim increase in deaths due to the virus over the next four weeks, with 7,300 to 16,000 new deaths likely to be reported in the week ending Dec. 12.

Thanksgiving is the one national holiday when Americans traditionally take a breather and get together with family. Convincing 300 million people to break with that ritual is proving to be a hard sell, especially with inconsistent messages from the nation’s leaders.

The Trump administration has sent mixed signals. The White House announced Tuesday that President Trump would remain in Washington for Thanksgiving, instead of traveling to his Palm Beach, Fla., resort, Mar-a-Lago, his usual holiday destination. Officials didn’t say why he changed his plans. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday urged Americans to celebrate only with their immediate household — a warning that Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have not given.

“Gathering indoors with people who aren’t members of your household is a high-risk activity for spreading the virus,” Azar said, after previously stopping short of such a warning.

That cautionary tone, though, comes after many Americans have already made their plans and are preparing to travel. Entering the U.S. holiday season, the nation is experiencing its worst surge of the coronavirus yet. Cases are spiking nationally to record levels. The U.S. recorded 148,000 new cases on Tuesday after hitting a record daily total of 190,000 on Friday. U.S. deaths from the coronavirus have surpassed 250,000, including 1,425 on Tuesday. Hospitalizations are at a record level.

Those numbers are likely to get worse. The virus spreads easily indoors, particularly when people are eating and talking, while sitting close together and not wearing masks. And contact tracing efforts are increasingly finding clusters of infections linked to small, private social gatherings, as opposed to the super-spreader events of earlier in the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on Thursday, recommending that Americans limit in-person contact and not travel during the Thanksgiving period.

The website advises that virtual Thanksgivings pose the lowest risk, and that smaller, shorter and outdoor gatherings all help to reduce the danger of transmission.

Even Anthony Fauci, the influential director of the National Institute of

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Jersey Shore Family Vacation Streaming: How to Watch

Jersey Shore: Family Vacation cast photo


Jersey Shore: Family Vacation cast photo

Everyone’s favorite guidos and guidettes are back with the fourth season of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation, premiering Thursday, November 19 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on MTV

If you don’t have cable, here’s how you can watch Jersey Shore: Family Vacation streaming online for free:

Heavy may earn an affiliate commission if you sign up via a link on this page

You can watch a live stream of MTV and 60 other TV channels on Philo TV, which comes with a seven-day free trial:

Philo Free Trial

Once signed up for Philo, you can watch Jersey Shore: Family Vacation live on the Philo app, which is available on your Roku, Roku TV, Amazon Fire TV or Firestick, Apple TV, Chromecast (compatible on Android mobile), iPhone, Android phone, iPad or Android tablet. You can also watch on your computer on the Philo website.

If you can’t watch live, Philo allows you to DVR programs and watch them up to 30 days later. And even if you forget to DVR something, Philo also comes with a 72-hour rewind feature, which lets you to watch most shows on-demand if they have aired in the last three days.

You can watch a live stream of MTV and 100-plus other TV channels on FuboTV, which comes with a seven-day free trial:

FuboTV Free Trial

Once signed up for FuboTV, you can watch Jersey Shore: Family Vacation live on the FuboTV app, which is available on your Roku, Roku TV, Amazon Fire TV or Firestick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, Samsung Smart TV, Android TV, iPhone, Android phone, iPad or Android tablet. You can also watch on your computer via the FuboTV website.

If you can’t watch live, FuboTV comes with 250 hours of cloud DVR space, as well as a 72-hour look-back feature, which allows you to watch most shows on-demand within three days (and sometimes longer) of their conclusion, even if you don’t record them.

You can watch a live stream of MTV and 65+ other TV channels on Vidgo, which you can try with a free seven-day trial:

Vidgo Free Trial

Once signed up for Vidgo, you can watch Jersey Shore: Family Vacation live on the Vidgo app, which is available on your Roku, Roku TV, Amazon Fire TV, or Firestick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, iPhone, Android phone, iPad, or Android tablet. Or you can watch on your computer via the Vidgo website.

You can watch a live stream of MTV and 40+ other channels via either the Sling Orange plus Comedy Extra bundle (41 channels) or the Sling Blue plus Comedy Extra bundle (54 channels). It comes with a free three-day trial, but if you bypass that, you can get $10 off your first month, and get Showtime, Starz, and Epix included for free:

Get Sling TV

Once signed up for Sling TV, you can watch Jersey Shore: Family Vacation live on the Sling TV app, which is available on

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CDC urges Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving amid Covid surge

The top public health body in the US has warned Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving amid fears the upcoming public holiday is set to become an unprecedented superspreader event that will fuel the rampant increase in coronavirus cases.

Officials at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance on Thursday recommending against all travel next week for Thanksgiving, a holiday when millions of Americans normally congregate with family and friends.

“We have been alarmed by the exponential increases in cases, hospitalisations and deaths,” Henry Walke, the CDC’s Covid-19 incident manager, told reporters. The agency described the advisory as a “strong recommendation” that stopped short of a requirement.

Dr Walke added: “We ask Americans to consider their risk, to consider who is in their household, their own risk of acquiring infection and the . . . risk in the community they are travelling to.”

The CDC is advising those who do travel for the holiday to stay outdoors as much as possible, ventilate their houses, and to wear masks even while around members of their own family if they have not been living together for the previous 14 days.

Dr Walke said the CDC, which has not held a public briefing for several months, had felt compelled to issue the guidance after the US recorded more than 1m new cases over the last week — a tally that exceeds what most countries have recorded during the entire pandemic.

Some of the rise might be explained by increased testing, but other metrics also indicate that the epidemic is spiralling out of control. As of Thursday, hospitalisations stood at a record 79,410, according to the Covid Tracking Project. And the average death rate of 1,162 a day over the past week is at its highest level since late May.

Nearly all states are seeing cases, hospitalisations and deaths rise, week on week, prompting officials in a growing number of cities and states to reintroduce restrictions on businesses, close schools, and impose limits on social gatherings.

On Thursday, Bill DeBlasio, the New York City mayor, said indoor dining at restaurants and bars would be halted within a “week or two”. He had already ordered the closure of the city’s schools earlier this week.

The travel advice from the CDC comes at a time of political turmoil in the US as Donald Trump refuses to accept the result of this month’s presidential election.

The president has made just two public appearances since the election was called for his Democratic rival Joe Biden, and has not met with his own coronavirus task force in weeks.

Meanwhile Scott Atlas, the neuroradiologist who has become the president’s most trusted coronavirus adviser, has urged Americans to resist restrictions being put in place to slow the spread of the pandemic.

In response to new curbs introduced in Michigan last week, Dr Atlas wrote on Twitter: “The only way

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Less than 10 per cent of travellers in NSW coronavirus hotel quarantine have paid their bill

Less than 10 per cent of guests in quarantine hotels in New South Wales have paid for the service since the State Government began charging for the program four months ago.

Documents obtained under freedom of information laws have also revealed 644 invoices are so overdue that debt recovery orders have been issued to recoup more than $2 million in outstanding fees.

Since July 18, overseas arrivals have been billed $3,000 each for the mandatory two-week stay in heavily guarded hotels.

Passengers flying to Sydney from Victoria since September 11 are also supposed to pay for their quarantine.

Since the NSW Government began charging, the documents show 43,684 returned travellers have been put up in hotels.

But just 4,156 have paid their invoices.

Catch up on the main COVID-19 news from November 19 with our coronavirus blog.

More than half of the arrivals had their fees waived, including almost 12,000 Defence Force personnel and passengers in transit.

The exemptions have cost the Government more than $30 million in lost revenue.

People who booked their flights before specified cut-off dates and those experiencing financial hardship can also apply for a waiver.

About 10 per cent of guests who owe money are on payment plans.

In a statement, a government spokesperson said hotel quarantine was essential in protecting the state against COVID-19.

“Quarantine fees are only a contribution to the overall cost incurred by the state and the NSW Government is not making a profit from the quarantine program,” they said.

“The fees for quarantine are comparable to other jurisdictions.”

Families and groups sharing hotel rooms are given a discount, with each extra adult charged $1,000 and children over the age of three costing $500 (meaning a family of two adults and two children must pay $5,000).

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has argued her state is doing more than any other jurisdiction to repatriate Australians, and has challenged Queensland and Western Australia in particular to step up.

A Senate estimates committee was recently told 32,000 stranded Australians have registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to return home.

Price of quarantine hurting those without work

The cost of hotel quarantine and expensive international airfares make it hard for many to get back to Australia.

Natalie, who does not want to use her surname, was sailing from Mexico to Fiji with her partner when she heard Australia had shut its border.

The 31-year-old has returned to Sydney to find work after using all her travel budget.

“My money has run out and I’ve had to access early release of super,” Natalie said.

“I don’t have a job so I’ve got to make that money last.”

A man and woman on a paddle board
Natalie and her partner were sailing when they heard about Australia’s border closure.(Supplied)

The Federal Government scheme allows Australians affected by the pandemic to withdraw $10,000 from their superannuation account.

Natalie says she will use almost a third of that amount to pay for her quarantine when she is released from the hotel

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CDC urges Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving

a close up of a person holding a piece of cake on a plate: skynesher/Getty Images

© skynesher/Getty Images
skynesher/Getty Images

  • The CDC is recommending against any travel, no matter how limited, for Thanksgiving this year.
  • If you are eating Thanksgiving dinner with people you don’t live with, the CDC is recommending wearing masks. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The US Centers for Disease Control is recommending against traveling, even a short distance, to have Thanksgiving with family and friends outside your household this year.

“We’re alarmed,” Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager said Thursday on a call with reporters, announcing new Thanksgiving guidance released Thursday cautioning against holiday travel during the coronavirus pandemic. “COVID-19 is turning out to be quite a formidable foe.”

Many areas of the country are dealing with unprecedented COVID-19 case numbers and deaths, and the disease — which often spreads quietly from people who show no symptoms —  has killed more than 250,000 people across the US so far. 

“The tragedy that could happen is that one of your family members, from coming together in this family gathering actually could end up being hospitalized and severely ill and die,” Walke said.

“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period. For Americans who decide to travel, CDC recommends doing so as safely as possible by following the same recommendations for everyday living during this pandemic: wear a mask in public settings, and on public transportation … watch distance by staying six feet away from others not from the same household, and wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer.”

The CDC said if you do choose to dine with someone you haven’t been living with this Thanksgiving, you should wear a mask. College students traveling home for the holidays and their families should be extra cautious, the agency said, since they haven’t been living together. 

“These times are tough,” Walke said. “It’s been a long outbreak, almost 11 months now, and people are tired, and we understand that. People want to see their relatives and their friends in the way they’ve always done it. But this year, particularly, we’re asking people to be as safe as possible and limit their travel.”

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