It comes as no great surprise to anyone that turning over the calendar to 2021 hasn't seen all the bad news of 2020 being left behind. The second wave of COVID-19 has seen many countries face more challenges than back in April during the peak of the first wave.
We are in the northern hemisphere winter and the virus does seem to be more virulent during the colder weather, as we approach the spring, we anticipate a natural decline in the number of cases being seen. The other issue encountered, initially in the UK, but now in other markets has been the recognition of new strains of the virus, some up to 70% more contagious than the initial variant. Thankfully, the UK, South Africa and Brazil strains are no more deadly but they are easier to catch.
The positive news this past fortnight is how quickly the vaccine programme is being rolled out across Europe. As of today the UK has vaccinated 18million (27% of the population). There appear to be some logistical challenges in some other major economies where between 1% and 3% have been vaccinated. Political pressure is building to restrict supplies of some vaccines manufactured in the EU to those countries outside its structure. Hopefully this will swiftly be resolved and we won't experience political wrangling over such a critical issue.
There is now a much more positive narrative on the remainder of 2021. Businesses and individuals can see a roadmap back to their respective workplaces. The questions that have been left unanswered over the course of the past 12 months are now in sharper focus. Recognition that occupiers and investors are reaching the point where they need to answer those questions is now much more prevalent. The time for planning is reaching its natural end point, and actions are coming thick and fast.
Interest in the property sector is strong, many conversations are underway across Europe addressing all sectors. We know there will be more questions posed and answers given over the next few months and we welcome the chance to engage.