Coronavirus may have no respect for social, racial or professional boundaries, but even during a pandemic, as F Scott Fitzgerald observed, the very rich “are different from you and me”.
While most of us are panicking about having enough toilet paper or whether we can work from home those with the means are making other arrangements.
Given the choice of fight or flight, flight is the preferred option of the wealthy. Private jet travel is booming, with as much as a tenfold increase in bookings, allowing travelers to avoid large hubs identified as entry-points for coronavirus and avoid contact with strangers.
Location, location, location
A well-stocked country home is also a good option. Escaping to your house in the country, to Idaho or Gloucestershire, is one of the most popular 1% ways of avoiding the contagion, says PR Mark Borkowsky, who attended a notably sparse memorial service for photographer Terry O’Neill in London on Tuesday.
“In this country, people are heading for the hills,” Borkowsky said. “At the memorial, not one person was handshaking and I’ve never seen so many Aesop hand-cleansers in one room. Lots of people were either heading out of London, or those that hadn’t were either talking about doing so or self-isolating.
“It feels like a phoney war: what do we do to avoid it [coronavirus] and how do we keep away from people,” Borkowsky said.
Who you know, not what you know
It also helps to have friends in high places.
The Trump administration, which initially downplayed the pandemic, has lost no time making testing available to political loyalists.
Two congressional Republicans, Matt Gaetz of Florida and North Carolina’s Mark Meadows, the incoming White House chief of staff, were both tested after exposure to a Covid-19 carrier at the annual conservative conference near Washington DC last month.
Both said they were exhibiting no symptoms of illness, rendering their testing in apparent defiance of the government’s own recommendations that healthcare providers prioritize tests for hospitalized patients who are exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, elderly and those with underlying health issues.
If the jet is grounded, or you have to mix with hoi polloi, there’s always a face mask.
The US surgeon general, Jerome Adams, has urged the public to stop buying them. “Seriously people,” Adams wrote on Twitter, “STOP BUYING MASKS!”
That didn’t stop Naomi Campbell from boarding a plane in Los Angeles decked out in a full white protective suit and wearing a 3M N95 mask – the hospital-grade mask that doctors and coronavirus experts say are in short supply.
Campbell’s less than chic new look followed a a selfie by Paris-bound Gwyneth Paltrow wearing a since sold-out “urban air mask” by a Swedish company, Airinum. Paltrow starred in the prescient 2011 drama Contagion about a deadly viral outbreak.
“Paranoid? Prudent? Panicked? Placid? Pandemic? Propaganda?” wrote Paltrow, who now apparently refers to herself in the third person. “Paltrow’s just going to go ahead and sleep with this thing on the plane. I’ve already been in this movie. Stay safe. Don’t shake hands. Wash hands frequently. 😷”
Money can’t buy you love
But, sadly, wherever the super-rich go, they take themselves with them.
Quarantine may prove too much for wealthy couples forced to stay home and deal with intimacy issues rarely encountered by the jet set.
Mitchell Moss, who teaches urban policy and planning at New York University, told Bloomberg News: “This is going to destroy the marriages of the rich … All these husbands and wives who travel will now have to spend time with the person they’re married to.”
Source: The Guardian