This article is part of Owning the Future, a series on how small businesses across the country have been effected by the pandemic.
The Covid pandemic hit California hard. It has seen well over 3.5 million cases and over 60,000 deaths. Scores of businesses have closed. But for Ana Jimenez the owner of Tacos El Jerry, a small fleet of food trucks in Santa Cruz County, it provided an opportunity to bring her business into the 21st century.
Ms. Jimenez’s four trucks began taking orders through an app and a website, delivering directly to customers, and cultivating a customer base through a new social media presence. All of that added up to a significant increase in sales.
Facebook and Instagram pages for the food trucks, a social media advertising campaign and began accepting credit card purchases. “Each truck is now serving around 300 people per day, which translates to roughly $5,000 in sales daily,” Ms. Jimenez said.
Food trucks — kitchens on wheels, essentially — are flexible by design and quickly became a substitute during the pandemic for customers who couldn’t dine indoors and coveted something different than their mainstream carryout options. That, in turn, has delivered a new client base to add on to an existing cadre of loyal followers. In a very real sense, food trucks are vehicles for equality in the post-pandemic world.
“While the pandemic has certainly hurt the majority of small businesses, it has also pushed many to be more innovative by looking for new revenue streams and ways to reach customers,” said Kimberly A. Eddleston, a professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at Northeastern University.
Like Ms. Jimenez, some businesses have “focused on ways to maintain their customer base by, for example, delivering products directly to customers,” Prof. Eddleston said. “While others have created products and services that attract new customers.”
Blue Sparrow food trucks in Pittsburgh, adding pizza, four-packs of local beer, gift cards and five-ounce bottles of housemade hot sauce.
Mr. Cypher’s main fare since he hit the streets in 2016 has been global street food. His menu carries a heavy Asian inspiration. There’s made-from-scratch kimchi on the menu daily. Dishes can include rice bowls, Vietnamese banh mi, falafel burritos, and a burger made with a ramen bun.
During the pandemic, Mr. Cypher’s business took a hit when 24 festivals and over a dozen weddings where he was booked were canceled. “I switched gears to keep things as lean as possible,” Mr. Cypher said.
He temporarily shut down a second food truck — a retrofitted 35-foot, 1956 Greyhound bus that he used for the big parties — and introduced a website to interact with his customers and an online ordering system for his smaller truck, which he usually parked at a neighborhood brewery.
“I switched the menu to focus on soups, noodles, burritos and pressed sandwiches, so that the things that we were handing our customers would make it home and still be a good experience after they opened up the bag and took it out,” he said.
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And he began to make and sell pizza one day a week at the kitchen where he used to do his prep work for the trucks before the pandemic. (The pizza, too, has an international flair: a banh mi pie, for example, made with pork or tofu, miso garlic sauce, mozzarella, pickled carrots, cucumbers, and cilantro.)
Accion Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit organization providing small-business owners with access to capital, networks and coaching. “Many food truck owners stepped forward to seize opportunity during a time of great uncertainty,” she said.
As Pittsburgh emerges from the pandemic, Mr. Cypher is adding a twist at his kitchen location. “We have licensing to offer beer on draft from our local breweries, so we’re going to have a small beer garden,” he said. “And that’s a revenue stream that we’re going to kind of lean into that we probably never would have done if not for Covid.”
In 2020, Mr. Cypher’s food trucks had $200,000 in gross sales, down about 40 percent from the previous year, he said. “But with the new offerings, more efficiency and only running one rig, we were actually able to net enough to keep the business moving forward,” he said. “This year we’re already up about 30 percent from where we were at last year at this time.”
Shiso Crispy, timing was much tricker: she opened her first truck in November 2019, just a few months before the pandemic. And yet Ms. Whaley, 35, who offers handmade gyozas, bao buns and their signature dish, dirty rice, now has two trucks because of a strategy of regularly parking in certain neighborhoods and offering discounted and free meals outside a nearby Ronald McDonald House. (She added the second truck in January.)
One challenge: “The internet here is shoddy. And cellphone service in different areas out here just doesn’t work,” she said. “During the height of the pandemic, I was consistently losing two or more transactions at my point of sale every shift.”
Clover Flex point of sale program for touchless transactions. “It has digitally transformed my business,” Ms. Whaley said.
She also signed on to an app, called Best Food Trucks, that allows customers near her to pre-order once they know her location for the day.
“The inextricably connected stories of food trucks and Covid are a perfect microcosm of the undeniable reality that women, immigrants and people of color, historically relegated to the edges of the economy, are actually the foundation upon which the next economy must be built,” said Nathalie Molina Niño, author of “Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs.”
But the silver lining from the pandemic for some operators is more personal — including bringing families together. “I have a ton of wisdom about how to operate food trucks and cooking,” Ms. Jimenez said. “It’s the coming together of the generations that made the business stronger now and for the future.”
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Like many New Zealanders before her, Cat Moody chased the broader horizons of life abroad, unsure if she would ever return to a homeland she saw as remote and limiting.
But when the pandemic arrived, it “changed the calculus” of what she valued, she said. Suddenly, fresh air, natural splendor and a sparse population sounded more appealing, as did the sense of security in a country whose strict measures have all but vanquished Covid-19.
In February, Ms. Moody, 42, left her house and the life she had built in Princeton, N.J., and moved back to New Zealand with her husband, a U.S. citizen. She is among more than 50,000 New Zealanders who have flocked home during the pandemic, offering the country a rare opportunity to win back some of its best and brightest.
The unexpected influx of international experience and connections has led to local news reports heralding a societal and industrial renaissance. Policymakers are exhorting businesses to capitalize on the “fundamental competitive advantage” offered by the country’s success against the coronavirus.
have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, and Australians and residents of the Cook Islands are the only non-New Zealanders who can visit.
“Shifting into how we take advantage of the way things have changed, I think having a government that is risk-averse is actually going to be damaging to New Zealand,” Ms. Moody said.
Ms. Imam, who worked in communications for the computer company Dell in the United States, said that New Zealand’s reputation abroad was better than it deserved.
Still, she said that new government policies, such as paid leave for women who have miscarriages, had convinced her that the “project that is New Zealand” was worth returning for.
“At least we’re doing something right,” she said. “I want to be part of that.”
This article is part of our latest special report on Museums, which focuses on reopening, reinvention and resilience.
When Brad Carney sketched the plan for a 15,000-square-foot ground mural in downtown Reno, Nev., he wove in design elements from the area’s railroading heritage, and pulled hues and motifs from nearby buildings and landscapes, including the state flower and the famed Reno Arch.
“I wanted to make it specific and unique to its place, so that this mural couldn’t exist anywhere else,” said Mr. Carney, an artist based in Philadelphia known for his playful, large scale and brightly colored public works.
“When I design murals,’’ he added, “I like to become a vessel for a community and a neighborhood, and not bring too much of myself until I find out what they’re looking for. The point of public art, to me, is the process of involving the community.”
16 small and midsize cities across the country where artists and local residents are taking to the streets — from crosswalks to underpasses — to add new color to old blacktop and pavement with eye-catching urban art as part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative. Grants of up to $25,000 are helping cities create and implement relatively low-cost public art projects to revitalize their streets and public spaces by making them more beautiful, more inviting and safer.
ReTRAC Plaza, a little used concrete and dirt space once covered in train tracks being developed as a hub for local events, Mr. Carney said, from music festivals and farmers’ markets to movie nights.
Kate D. Levin, who oversees arts programs for Bloomberg Philanthropies and was commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. And especially now, as cities reopen, “there’s a social cohesion goal that I think has only gotten more urgent,” she said. “Why not use projects like this to actually let people be involved, create a sense that public space belongs to everyone?”
The goals are to support local working artists, community groups, businesses and government on collaborative infrastructure projects to make streets safer; to activate public space in ways that are “as robust and reflective of local identity and aspirations as possible,” Ms. Levin said; and to promote community engagement, “because a streetscape isn’t theoretical, it runs through people’s lives.”
Janette Sadik-Khan, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation and now transportation principal at Bloomberg Associates, the pro bono consulting arm of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which advises mayors around the world. “Streets make up more than 80 percent of a city’s public space, so they’re really the front yards for millions of Americans.”
Three cities began or completed installations in late 2020: Kansas City, Mo; Saginaw, Mich.; and Norfolk, Va. The remaining 13 are expected to finish their projects this year. Through mid-May, the cities have transformed a combined 26,000 square feet of streetscape with artwork and engaged more than 1,500 residents and 72 artists in the design and installation process.
minority artists who will design vinyl wraps for 25 utility boxes throughout downtown. Troy, N.Y. intends to beautify an underpass.
“So many U.S. cities have underpasses that, whatever the original intent, turned into real barriers, and divided neighborhoods in ways that often aren’t very positive,” Ms. Levin said, expressing hope that the art projects “can create a gateway instead of an impediment.”
Teal Thibaud, director of the Glass House Collective, a nonprofit that works in an underserved neighborhood in East Chattanooga, Tenn., said even small improvements could help spawn others, especially in an area that had received limited infrastructure investment in recent years.
The Bloomberg-funded mural, completed in April, helped beautify the area, and several grants from local foundations, which increased the overall project budget to $60,000, enhanced the area in other ways.
A new street park next to the asphalt mural that created a safe gathering space, fence art to slow traffic near the elementary school, and painted stencils on sidewalks to encourage school children and other residents to follow the safest local routes were among the projects, said Ms. Thibaud. “We’re starting to see it all work together.”
Kansas City, Mo., redesigned a busy, dangerous four-way intersection where cars rarely stopped for pedestrians, said DuRon Netsell, founder and principal of Street Smarts Design + Build, an urban design firm that focuses on walkable communities. “People were just flying through the intersection, significantly over the speed limit.”
Midtown KC Now, a nonprofit local community improvement organization.
Soon after installation, foot traffic increased, overall vehicle speeds declined by 45 percent, street crossing times for pedestrians were cut in half, noise level dropped by about 10 decibels and the share of pedestrians who said they felt safe crossing the intersection increased to 63 percent from 23, Mr. Netsell said.
Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg Associates issued the Asphalt Art Guide, a free manual with tips, checklists, and case studies of successful projects around the world to encourage more cities to develop visual art projects. In March, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a second round of up to 20 grants, open to all U.S. cities.
“Safety doesn’t have to be mundane and boring,” Mr. Netsell said. “We’ve proven that we can make our intersections and streets much safer, but we can also make them really fun and vibrant. It’s something that all local communities can do.”
Early last year, as international lockdowns upended daily life, they took with them, one by one, many of the major cultural and sporting events that dot the calendar each year. The N.B.A. suspended its season, the French Open was postponed for several months and the Tokyo Olympics were delayed a year. The future of the Glastonbury Festival and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival were in doubt. It was a bleak time.
Recently, as conditions in many places around the world have slowly begun to improve, and as countries have begun mass vaccination campaigns, some events and cultural staples have made plans to return, albeit with modifications. While few events, if any, have plans to go ahead free of restrictions this year, some are taking a hybrid approach. Others remain postponed or canceled.
Here’s the status of some of the major events around the world.
scheduled to begin on July 23 with an opening ceremony. The bulk of the athletic events will begin the next day. The first round of Wimbledon begins on June 28 and will run through mid-July. Officials said they were working toward a spectator capacity of at least 25 percent.
scheduled for Oct. 11, and the 50th New York City Marathon is set for Nov. 7.
The 105th Indianapolis 500 will go on as planned on May 30. Officials will allow about 135,000 spectators in — 40 percent of the venue’s capacity. The event was organized with state and local health officials and was approved by the Marion County Public Health Department, race officials said.
The French Open, one of the premier tennis competitions, has been postponed one week to a new start date of May 24. The decision was made in agreement with the authorities in France and the governing bodies of international tennis, said officials, who want the tournament played in front of the largest possible number of fans.
is canceled again this year.
it would not take place this summer.
The Essence Festival of Culture, which usually draws more than a half million people to New Orleans over the Fourth of July weekend every year, will host a hybrid experience this year over two weekends: June 25-27 and July 2-4.
Headliners like Billie Eilish, Post Malone and ASAP Rocky will take the stage at the Governors Ball Music Festival, which is scheduled for Sept. 24-26 at Citi Field in Queens. Organizers say the event will return to its typical June dates in 2022.
Burning Man, the annual countercultural arts event that typically draws tens of thousands of people to Black Rock Desert in Nevada, has been canceled again this year because of the pandemic. It will return in 2022, organizers said.
After being canceled last year, the Austin City Limits Music Festival, the event in the capital of Texas, is scheduled to return to Zilker Park on Oct. 1-3 and Oct. 8-10.
on Sept. 13. A second event is scheduled for May 2022.
NYC Pride 2021 will move forward in June with virtual and in-person events. The Pride March, which was canceled last year, will be virtual this time. (San Francisco Pride, also in June, is planning similar adjustments, while Atlanta Pride is planning to hold an in-person event in October.)
from Aug. 10. In order to keep concertgoers safe, organizers said events will not have intermissions and its venue will have a limited number of available seats. Similarly, the Salzburg Festival in Austria kicks off in mid July with modifications.
The Edinburgh International Festival, a showcase for world theater, dance and music in the Scottish city since 1947, will run Aug. 7-29. Performances will take place in temporary outdoor pavilions with covered stages and socially distanced seating.
E3, one of the video game industry’s most popular conventions where developers showcase the latest news and games, will be virtual this year from June 12-15.
The New York International Auto Show, which showcases the newest and latest automobiles from dozens of brands, will run Aug. 20-29. The event last year was postponed and eventually canceled because of the pandemic.
The Cannes Film Festival in the South of France, one of the movie industry’s most revered and celebrated events, has been postponed to July 6-17 from mid-May. The 2021 edition of the event, which was canceled last year, is currently scheduled to be in person.
After more than a year of no theater performances, Broadway shows will start selling tickets for full-capacity shows with some performances starting on Sept. 14. (Some West End shows will resume as early as May 17.)
After being virtual last year, New York Comic-Con will return with a physical event Oct. 7-10 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. The convention will run at reduced capacity to ensure social distancing, organizers said. This year’s Comic-Con International event, which is normally held in July in San Diego, has been postponed until summer 2022. There are plans for a smaller event called Comic-Con Special Edition however, that will be held in person in November.
Amid a deepening crisis in India, the World Health Organization announced Monday that it had designated the B.1.617 variant, which has been growing more common in the country, as a variant of concern. Scientists still don’t know much about the variant yet, but they are worried that it may be helping to fuel the rise in the nation’s coronavirus infections, which experts say are likely undercounted.
“There is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies” of the variant, said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead of the W.H.O.’s coronavirus response.
Dr. Van Kerkhove also said that a study of a limited number of patients, which had not yet been peer reviewed, suggested that antibodies from vaccines or infections with other variants might not be quite as effective against B.1.617. However, the agency said that vaccines will likely remain potent enough to provide protection against B.1.617.
More details will be released in a report on Tuesday, Dr. Van Kerkhove said.
The variant was first detected in India at the end of 2020 but became more common in the country starting in March. It has since been found in 32 countries including the United States and the United Kingdom. The W.H.O.’s announcement comes as growing numbers of medical experts are adding their voices to a chorus of condemnation of the Indian government’s response and calling for nationwide restrictions to try to limit the horrifying death toll.
the official figures are already staggering — more than 350,000 new infections daily this month and nearly 250,000 total deaths — some experts say that the numbers are a vast undercount and estimate that India is on pace to suffer more than one million deaths by August.
Initially, the W.H.O. classified B.1.617 as a “variant of interest,” because it had certain mutations that have been linked to higher transmission and the potential to evade vaccines. At a news conference on Monday, agency officials announced they were elevated it to a higher level.
Other variants of concern include B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, and P.1., which was originally detected in Brazil.
But experts caution that it’s not yet clear just how much of a factor B.1.617 has played in the catastrophic rise in cases in India. They point to a perfect storm of public health blunders, such as permitting massive political rallies and religious festivals in recent months.
“I am concerned about 617 — I think we have to keep a very close eye on it,” said Kristian Andersen, a virologist at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. But he cautioned that relatively few variant samples are being analyzed in India, making it hard to know just how dangerous B.1.617 is. “We really, really need better data out of India,” he said.
editorial published on Saturday in The Lancet, a medical journal, said that Mr. Modi “seemed more intent on removing criticism” on social media than “trying to control the pandemic.”
Understand the Covid Crisis in India
“India squandered its early successes in controlling Covid-19,” the editorial said.
The medical journal also cited an estimate by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that projected that India would witness a total of more than a million coronavirus deaths by August — far higher than government figures would suggest.
On May 2, for example, the institute said that total deaths were actually about 642,000, about three times higher than the government’s own number for that date, just over 217,000.
Referring to the possibility that there may actually be a million victims by August, the Lancet editorial said, “If that outcome were to happen, Modi’s government would be responsible for presiding over a self-inflicted national catastrophe.”
wrote in a tweet on Sunday that it was likely that between two to five million people were being infected every day and that India’s “true” coronavirus death toll was “closer to 25,000 deaths” each day.
He based his own calculations, he wrote, on the number of cremations taking place in the country.
ROME — Milva, whose charisma, warm voice and flaming red hair made her one of Italy’s most recognizable divas from the 1960s through the ’80s, died on April 23 at a hospital in Milan. She was 81.
Her daughter, Martina Corgnati, said the cause was a neurovascular disease.
In an eclectic career that spanned more than 50 years, Milva sang at pop festivals and performed in high-culture houses like the Paris Opera and Milan’s prestigious Piccolo Theater. She became popular across Europe, especially in Germany. She crooned traditional songs and had contemporary hits. She wore glamorous dresses while singing leftist anthems.
President Sergio Mattarella, in a statement, called her “a protagonist of Italian music, a cultivated, sensitive and versatile interpreter.” Her body lay in state last month at the Piccolo, where fans lined up to pay their last respects.
“She used to say, ‘First I’ll finish the show, then I can die,’” Ms. Corgnati said. “The show came before everything.”
1954 Billy Wilder movie of the same name. But her family called her Milva, a fusion of her two first names, and it stuck professionally.
leftist views and her votes for Communist politicians. She sang about the killing of factory workers by the Italian police, performed traditional antifascist songs of the Italian Resistance, and sang musical versions of the work of anarchist poets. She became — also thanks in part to her blazing red hair — identified with the political left.
In 1968, when she sang the Resistance song “Bella Ciao” at the RAI Auditorium in Naples, she told the presenter, “I have a weakness for freedom songs.”
Giorgio Strehler, who oversaw the Piccolo, cast her in Brecht roles, most notably Jenny in “The Threepenny Opera.” She carried his theatrical influence into her concerts, which included 15 appearances at the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy.
She demonstrated “tireless perfectionism” in preparing her performances, said the director Filippo Crivelli, who worked with her for several years.
She characteristically sang with her hand on her hip, often dressed in Gianfranco Ferrè’s luxurious dresses and wearing a Guerlain perfume detectable from the first few rows.
Magazines put her on the cover, paparazzi chased her, and she was the subject of tabloid headlines, especially after one of her former boyfriends was found fatally shot in his car in mysterious circumstances and another killed himself.
She had no shortage of admirers. The Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone dedicated an album to her. Astor Piazzolla asked her to sing his tangos. Italians knew her best for “Alexander Platz,” a hit song adapted for her by the singer-songwriter Franco Battiato, a giant of Italian pop music, and “La Rossa,” a song written for her by another major artist, Enzo Jannacci.
She toured Asia and Europe, singing in at least seven different languages.
All that work took its toll. When her vocal cords grew inflamed, she gave herself cortisone shots to keep singing. Doctors said the treatments contributed to her neurovascular disease, according to Ms. Corgnati. She retired in 2012.
In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a sister, Luciana, and a brother, Antonio.
Vicky Schatzinger, a pianist who worked with Milva for 15 years, said she had repeatedly promised to cut her red hair once she left the stage, but she never did.
“She felt that her hair made her a character,” Ms. Schatzinger said. “But in reality, she was her character herself.”
A deadly second wave of coronavirus infections is devastating India, leaving millions of people infected and putting stress on the country’s already overtaxed health care system.
Officially, by the end of April, more than 17.9 million infections had been confirmed and more than 200,000 people were dead, but experts said the actual figures were likely much higher. In the same period, India was responsible for more than half of the world’s daily Covid-19 cases, setting a record-breaking pace of more than 300,000 a day.
For the most up-to-date figures, The New York Times is tracking the latest case counts here.
says that it has enough liquid oxygen to meet medical needs and that it is rapidly expanding its supply. But production facilities are concentrated in eastern India, far from the worst outbreaks in Delhi and in the western state of Maharashtra, and it can take several days for supplies to reach there by road.
Families of the sick are filling social media with pleas for oxygen as supplies run low at hospitals or because they are trying to administer care at home.
looted from hospitals.
India makes vaccines for the world, but few Indians have been inoculated.
India is one of the world’s leading vaccine manufacturers, but it has struggled to inoculate its citizens.
Less than 10 percent of Indians have gotten even one dose. Now, the country’s pain may be felt around the world, especially in poorer countries.
India had planned to ship out millions of doses. But given its stark vaccination shortfall, exports have essentially been shut down, leaving other nations with far fewer doses than they had expected.
How can I help?
Charities, volunteers and businesses in India and beyond are trying to help the country’s Covid victims and frontline workers.
(Before giving money to an organization, make sure you feel comfortable with it. In the United States, sites like Guidestar and Charity Navigator grade nonprofits on their effectiveness and financial health.)
SEOUL — “Minari,” the critically acclaimed movie about a hard-luck family of Korean immigrants in the United States, was not exactly a commercial blockbuster in South Korea: Fewer than a million people watched it in 54 days of screening across the country.
But when one of its stars, Yuh-Jung Youn, won the Academy Award for best supporting actress, South Koreans rejoiced not only because it was a first for a Korean actor, but also because of the recipient.
On Monday morning, the South Korean media sent out news flashes when Ms. Youn won her Oscar. Cable channels announced plans to screen her previous films. Social media was abuzz with fans congratulating her.
“Her performance brilliantly helped us relive the memories of our own mothers and grandmothers,” President Moon Jae-in said in a statement, referring to Ms. Youn’s character in the film.
“Woman of Fire,” but left acting to marry Jo Young-nam, one of South Korea’s best-known singers. In the 1970s, she followed him to the United States, where Mr. Jo tried on a career as a gospel singer. The marriage ended in divorce in the 1980s.
“A Good Lawyer’s Wife” (2003), many female actresses declined the role of a woman who has sex with another man while her husband is terminally ill. Ms. Youn took the role, saying she could used the money to redo her living room.
She once performed the role of a spiteful queen in a Korean soap opera so well that people often cursed when they saw her on the street.
“People like her because they know her life story,” said Huh Eun, a retired college media professor in Seoul. “When they think of her, they don’t think of the glorious spotlight usually associated with film stars, but of a woman who has struggled to make a living all these years like the rest of us.”
Ms. Youn’s global breakthrough came when she was offered a role in “Minari.”
quoted Ms. Youn as saying. “This is our first time living this life, so we can’t help but feel regretful and hurt.”
Ms. Youn’s Oscar acceptance speech went viral for a characteristic tongue-in-cheek attitude. The award was presented by Brad Pitt, whose production company financed the film. “Mr. Brad Pitt, finally, nice to meet you!” she said to the American superstar. “Where were you when we were filming in Tulsa?”
“Minari” depicts a Korean family struggling to build a life as farmers in rural Arkansas in the 1980s, when many poor Koreans headed for the United States for a better life. It is the second film about Koreans to make history at the Academy Awards, after “Parasite,” directed by Bong Joon Ho, won four Oscars last year.
“Parasite” grossed more than 10 million viewers within two months of its release. Part of the reason “Minari” failed to achieve the same commercial success in South Korea is because the immigrant experience of the 1980s that it portrays is quickly fading.
These days, far fewer Koreans emigrate to the United States, and those who do are usually the children of rich families who go there to study. That may change, too, as Koreans watch hate crimes involving Asian-American victims soar in the United States.
But Ms. Youn struck a chord with South Koreans in her role as Soonja, the foul-mouthed but loving grandmother in “Minari” who moves from South Korea to the United States to take care of her grandchildren. Her grandson doesn’t consider Soonja a “real grandma” and complains that she “smells like Korea.” They slowly build a bond by playing cards together and sharing Mountain Dew, which Soonja seems to think is a health drink because it is made from “dew from the mountains.”
After “Minari” began accumulating awards at film festivals in recent weeks, fans started calling Ms. Youn “the Meryl Streep of Korea.” She has done what no other Korean actor or actress has done: while “Parasite” won best picture and best director, none of its actors were nominated for Oscars.
On Sunday night during the award ceremony, Ms. Youn said her true inspiration was her two children. “I’d like to thank my two boys who made me go out and work,” she said while holding her statuette.
“This is the result because mommy worked so hard.”
PHUKET, Thailand — Around the corner from the teeth-whitening clinic and the tattoo parlor with offerings in Russian, Hebrew and Chinese, near the outdoor eatery with indifferent fried rice meant to fuel sunburned tourists or tired go-go dancers, the Hooters sign has lost its H.
The sign, in that unmistakable orange cartoon font, now simply reads, “ooters.”
Like so much at Patong Beach, the sleazy epicenter of sybaritic Thailand, Hooters is “temporarily closed.” Other establishments around the beach, on Phuket Island, are more firmly shuttered, their metal grills and padlocks rusted or their contents ripped out, down to the fixtures, leaving only the carcasses of a tourism industry ravaged by the coronavirus epidemic.
The sun, which usually draws 15 million people to Phuket each year, stays unforgiving in a downturn. The rays bleach “For Rent” signs on secluded villas and scorch greens on untended golf courses. They lay bare the emptiness of Patong streets where tuk-tuk drivers once prowled, doubling as touts for snorkeling trips or peep shows or Thai massages.
kept the virus at bay, although the economy suffered. But even as the last couple of weeks have brought repeated daily caseload highs, the Thai government is reacting slowly.
In early April, as cases began to mount, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha reacted with a verbal shrug.
voted to recommend lifting a pause on the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine and adding a label about an exceedingly uncommon but potentially dangerous blood clotting disorder.
Federal health officials are expected to formally recommend that states lift the pause.
Administration of the vaccine ground to a halt recently after reports emerged of a rare blood clotting disorder in six women who had received the vaccine.
The overall risk of developing the disorder is extremely low. Women between 30 and 39 appear to be at greatest risk, with 11.8 cases per million doses given. There have been seven cases per million doses among women between 18 and 49.
Nearly eight million doses of the vaccine have now been administered. Among men and women who are 50 or over, there has been less than one case per million doses.
Johnson & Johnson had also decided to delay the rollout of its vaccine in Europe amid similar concerns, but it later decided to resume its campaign after the European Union’s drug regulator said a warning label should be added. South Africa, devastated by a more contagious virus variant that emerged there, also suspended use of the vaccine but later moved forward with it.
On April 18, Thailand’s tourism minister acknowledged that a July 1 opening for Phuket looked unlikely given that the plan depended on Covid being squelched in Thailand.
To prepare for Phuket Sandbox, the Thai government funneled many of its limited number of vaccines to the island, in hopes of achieving herd immunity by the summer. As of mid-April, more than 20 percent of Phuket’s residents had been vaccinated. Nationwide, only about 1 percent of the population has received the needed doses.
“I am very relieved,” said Suttirak Chaisawat, a grocery store worker who received his Sinovac vaccine this month at a resort repurposed for mass inoculations. “We all need some hope for Phuket.”
While the vaccinations may have given Mr. Suttirak some optimism, the present picture remains grim.
Normally at this time of year, Patong Beach’s golden sands would be heaving with foreign holidaymakers.
But the beach is now almost deserted, save for a clutch of residents lining up for Covid tests at a mobile medical unit. Up the road, a monitor lizard, a creature more crocodile than newt, lumbered across the tarmac, with little traffic to impede its crossing.
Phuket’s half-built condominium complexes are being reclaimed by nature, always a battle in the tropics but a lost cause when developer money dries up. Billboards for “Exclusive Dream Holiday Home” are stained by mildew and monsoon mud.
The Thai New Year period this month was supposed to be a dress rehearsal for Phuket’s revival. Rather than foreign backpackers or business conference attendees, hotels tried to lure high-end Thai tourists who, were it not for the pandemic, might have decamped overseas for skiing in Hokkaido, Japan, or shopping in Paris.
But instead of prepping the island for its return as a global tourist haven, the Thai New Year may have wrecked the island’s chances for a July reopening.
At festivals in Patong and at other beaches this month, thousands of affluent Thais partied, fewer masks in evidence than bikini tops. For some in Thailand’s high society, Covid was seen as something that might infect vegetable sellers or shrimp peelers, not the jet set.
But then these beach revelers started testing positive, the virus spreading from luxe Bangkok nightclubs to Phuket.
The virus’s resurgence after so many months of economic hardship is shattering for the majority of Phuket’s residents, who depend on foreign tourists for their livelihoods.
As a 3-year-old elephant munched on sugar cane nearby, Jaturaphit Jandarot swung slowly in his hammock. There was little else to do.
Before the pandemic, he and the other elephant handlers on the outskirts of Patong used to lead more than 100 tourists a day, mostly from China, on 30-minute rides. Now there are no visitors.
“I was super excited to hear they are going to open Phuket for foreign tourists,” Mr. Jaturaphit said. “Thai people don’t ride elephants.”
Whatever the state of international travel, the elephants still need to be fed. Each month, a dozen beasts consume at least $2,000 worth of sugar cane, pineapples and bananas. The 3-year-old, little more than a toddler in elephant years, eats as much as the adults.
After Phuket’s tin and rubber industries declined, tourism grew from a few bungalows on Patong Beach in the 1970s to a global phenomenon, attracting golfers, clubbers, yachters, sex tourists and Scandinavian snow birds.
Much of Phuket’s high-end accommodation is clustered near the beach town of Bang Tao, a placid Muslim-majority community where placards for upscale wine bars mix with Arabic signs for Islamic schools.
Phuket’s largest mosque is in Bang Tao, and this year the first day of Ramadan coincided with the beginning of the Thai New Year festivities, an auspicious augur after a year of economic hardship. The night before fasting was to begin, worshipers streamed to the mosque. Women chopped shrimp, banana flowers and armfuls of herbs for the feasting to come.
But at the last minute, the Phuket authorities called off mass prayers for fear of the virus’s spread. Iftar, the breaking of the fast, is taking place in homes, not at the mosque.
As the local authorities traced Covid-19 cases on the island to the upscale beach parties, residents of Bang Tao grew frustrated.
“We want to welcome people to Phuket, of course, but when they don’t protect themselves and they bring Covid here, I’m a little bit angry,” said Huda Panan, a primary schoolteacher who lives behind the mosque.
Ms. Huda’s husband is a taxi driver, but he hasn’t worked for more than a year. Most of the mosque’s community depended on tourism, working as concierges, cleaners, landscapers and water-sports guides. Now, some locals sell dried fish and scavenge the hills for a fruit used to add pucker to a local curry — whatever they can do to survive.
On occasion, Buddhist temples, churches and mosques in Phuket distribute meals to the hungry. Lines are long. The food runs out.
“We can wait a little longer for Phuket to get better,” Ms. Huda said in the heat of the day as the daily fast grew long. “But not much more.”
Muktita Suhartono contributed reporting from Bangkok.
CAIRO — On a cool morning last November, Egypt’s tourism and antiquities minister stood in a packed tent at the vast necropolis of Saqqara just outside Cairo to reveal the ancient site’s largest archaeological discovery of the year.
The giant trove included 100 wooden coffins — some containing mummies interred over 2,500 years ago — 40 statues, amulets, canopic jars and funerary masks. The minister, Khaled el-Enany, said the latest findings hinted at the great potential of the ancient site and showcased the dedication of the all-Egyptian team that unearthed the gilded artifacts.
But he also singled out another reason the archaeological discoveries were crucial: it was a boon for tourism, which had been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.
unearthed an ancient Pharaonic city near the southern city of Luxor that dated back more than 3,400 years.
The discovery came just days after 22 royal mummies were moved to a new museum in a lavish spectacle that was broadcast worldwide. In addition, the discovery of 59 beautifully preserved sarcophagi in Saqqara is now the subject of a recent Netflix documentary; a bejeweled statue of the god Nefertum was found in Saqqara; the 4,700-year-old Djoser’s Step Pyramid was reopened last year after a 14-year, $6.6 million restoration; and progress is apace on the stunning Grand Egyptian Museum, scheduled to open sometime this year.
But the pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the industry, and what had been expected to be a bonanza season became a bleak winter.
Tourism is a crucial part of Egypt’s economy — international tourism revenues totaled $13 billion in 2019 — and the country has been eager to attract visitors back to its archaeological sites.
attacks on tourists, bomb blasts that damaged prominent museums and a downed airliner that killed hundreds of Russian tourists in 2015.
But the sector was steadily recovering, with visitors attracted by both antiquities and the sun-and-sea offerings, growing to over 13 million in 2019 from 5.3 million in 2016. The coronavirus pandemic has reversed these gains, leaving hotels, resorts and cruises empty, popular sites without visitors and revenue, and thousands of tour guides and vendors with drastically reduced incomes or none at all.
“Tourism in Egypt just had one of its best years in 2019 and then came the pandemic which severely impacted it all,” Amr Karim, the general manager for Travco Travel, one of Egypt’s largest tour operators, said in a telephone interview. “Nobody knew what would happen, how we will handle it, how it will affect us. It’s strange.”
The pandemic, he said, disrupted how tour companies operated, how they priced their packages and how to work with hotels and abide by their new hygiene playbooks.
exposed the fragility of Egypt’s health care system, with doctors lamenting shortages in protective equipment and testing kits while patients died from lack of oxygen. With over 12,000 deaths, Egypt also recorded one of the highest fatality rates from the virus in the Arab world.
With a growing number of cases, health officials in Egypt have recently warned of a third wave of the virus. Authorities have also canceled large gatherings and festivals, and promised to fine those not complying with protective measures like mask-wearing, but many Egyptians do not abide by these rules.
Travelers are required to have a negative Covid-19 test taken 72 hours before arriving in Egypt, and hotels are mandated to operate at half capacity.
The crisis affected not just big companies like Travco but also smaller ones that had started betting big on the growing tourism industry.
Passainte Assem established Why Not Egypt, a boutique travel agency, in 2017 by interviewing prospective travelers and customizing itineraries for them. But after the pandemic began, most of her clients, who are from Australia, Canada and the United States, canceled their plans, she said, pushing her to suspend the business for now.
The experience left her feeling that “tourism is not stable at all,” she said. “It cannot be the only source of income. I have to have a side hustle.”
a company trying to revive and preserve traditional Egyptian handicrafts.
offered Egyptians discounts on domestic plane travel, hotels and museum admissions.
But Ahmed Samir, chief executive of the tour company Egypt Tours Portal, said the direct cash support for tourism workers was minimal. With reduced bookings, he was able to keep his employees in his marketing and social media departments on the payroll but at half salary.
“As a kind of sympathy to my employees, we tried to balance,” he said. But still, he added, “most of my friends’ companies closed completely.”
The slowdown in tourist arrivals has left areas usually swamped by tourists quiet.
At the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo, Mahrous Abu Seif, a tour guide, sat waiting for clients one morning. A few small tour groups, including from Russia and China, were going through metal detector scans to go into the museum. But he hoped that more clients would come.
“What can I tell you? We sit here and wait and wait,” he said, throwing his hands in the air and adjusting his sunglasses. “We don’t know what the future holds.”
On the other side of town, at the historic El Fishawy coffee house, a few locals gurgled their water pipes and drank mint tea or Turkish coffee while melodious Quran recitation ascended from a nearby speaker. Located in the centuries-old Khan el Khalili market, the cafe, along with souvenir and jewelry shops, was hit badly by the pandemic.
“I used to bring people here and it would be packed, but look at it now,” Mohamed Said Rehan, a guide with a local company, said of the cafe. “The pandemic is a big problem.”
Mr. Rehan said that he knows many colleagues and friends who had to stay home for months without income or who left the industry altogether. But he still clings to a thread of hope that tourism will pick up soon.
And some tourists have indeed started coming back.
In February, Marcus Zimmermann, a 43-year-old architect from Germany, was visiting Egypt for the first time, stopping first in Cairo and planning trips to the southern city of Luxor, home to the iconic Valley of the Kings. Mr. Zimmermann had hoped to come to Egypt last year with his mother, who dreamed of being an archaeologist, for her 70th birthday. But they had to cancel their plans because of the pandemic.
This year, he decided to come alone but promised to “plan the trip again” with her once she’s vaccinated.
Even though it will be tough attaining the prepandemic figures quickly, people like Mr. Karim who work in the industry hope tourists will start coming back by year’s end.
With all the new discoveries, renovations and the planned opening of new sites and museums, tourists will gradually flock back to Egypt, he said.
“People will start to move. People will start to travel,” he said. “I am optimistic.”
Nada Rashwan and Asmaa Al Zohairy contributed reporting.