Doomsday bunker firm says Covid has fuelled 2,000% rise in interest with customers terrified of government collapse
DEMAND for Doomsday bunkers has soared by 2,000 per cent amid rising fears of mass panic during the spiraling coronavirus pandemic.
Some families have already quit their homes and moved underground as they prepare for the "worst-case scenario" and the collapse of society.
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Robert Vicino launched the sprawling Vivos xPoint project more than a decade ago in South Dakota.
It's a former US Army depot which has more than 500 off-grid bunkers capable of housing around 5,000 people.
The forward-thinking firm also has smaller facilities in Indiana and Germany.
Vivos – billed as the "world's largest bunker survival community" – is now reporting a 500 per cent increase in business over the last year.
However, enquiries from those looking to move underground has surged by 2,000 per cent.
Vivos now has nearly one million members around the world – and at least 1,000 based in the UK.
Described as an "epic humanitarian survival prioject," Vicino says he first had the idea for the shelters nearly four decades ago.
"The motivation came in 1982," he told Nine.com.au "It was a voice that I had in my head.
"The voice said I needed to build large, deep, underground bunkers to save thousands of people from something that's coming our way.
"And in 2007 I got a very, very strong feeling that I had to proceed. Something was coming, and it was coming soon, and the world was going to feel a lot of chaos."
According to Vicino, the bunkers can sustain life for at least a year, with deep underground wells providing fresh water, filters purifying the air, and even the capacity to grow fresh food.
"These facilities are fully stocked, they've got gyms, small surgical clinics, even a jail," he revealed.
"If someone needs to be detained, maybe because they're just losing it psychologically, we can do that.
They cost from $57,000 (£42,000) but buyers spend thousands more kitting them out.
Vivos even has what it calls a "four-star fitout" which costs $179,000 (£133,000).
Back in April, Vicino said people were already fearing the pandemic would end in total chaos.
"When people run out for money they're going to go looking for food. And that's when it's going to get real ugly," he said.
"At that point you want to be in Vivos. Think of it as a fortress. You're safe from all of the marauders and anarchists."
Speaking to Sky News, one bunker buyer said his "immuno-compromised" wife was "terrified" by the rise in coronavirus.
Tom Soulsby said this led them to make the decision to get away from the "millions of people that could infect us in days".
"More than anything, the main protection you need is from people," he said.
"I don't think it's any more paranoid than keeping a fire extinguisher in your house."
Like many Vivos clients, Mr Soulsby does not trust the government to protect him in the event of a major disaster.
He spoke as Brits have increasingly turned to survival supply sellers who cater for "preppers" – people who prepare for worst-case scenarios.
Justin Jones, a prepper and sales director of UK Prepping Shop, said their sales have gone up by 487 per cent in the last three months.
"I don't think people expected there to be empty shops," he told Sky News.
"It's always been laughed at when preppers have talked about this in the past. It came true and now we've got a nation of preppers."
At the Vivos xPoint facility there are 575 bunkers on private roads, each with enough floor space to accommodate 10 to 24 people and capable of withstanding a 500,000lb blast.
Not only do isolated bunkers offer residents protection from nuclear war and other catastrophic events, they also provide luxury facilities for those locked inside.
Shared features include an organic hydroponic and aquaculture food production system, a bar and lounge, pool and spa, digital weather station, and an indoor shooting range.
“Our clients are not ‘afraid’, but rather aware and well informed about what is now going on around the world and the myriad of threats we all face,” said Vicino.
“Vivos is the Plan B backup plan for their life-assurance if and when all hell breaks loose.”
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