The COVID-19 pandemic has left many jobless and hopeless, and has taken a massive toll on the global economy.
But that doesn’t seem to have affected the world’s minority, the super-rich, who have only increased their wealth over the past year or so.
Not only are they among the least likely to catch the virus and die, as The Telegraph points out, but they have also been able to profit from the pandemic in ways that we can only shake our heads at.
Jeff Bezos, who took 26 years to get to his net worth up to $115 billion, took only a year (in 2020) to increase his fortune by 40%, all thanks to those Amazon home deliveries.
Fine, some of the world’s wealthiest took a little knock, like Sir Richard Branson’s company Virgin Atlantic, but he is still able to live the absolute high life at his own private island in the Caribbean.
We know, too, that a lot of those at the highest echelons of society were splurging their lockdown cash willy-nilly on superyachts, private planes, grand countryside estates, and Narnia-like treehouses.
They have for all intents and purposes, been having a smashing time, and The Telegraph’s Annabel Fenwick Elliott knows about this world all too well.
Claiming that she has no share in this part of society besides some friends and a high-flying job, she reviewed some of the ways the richest people in the world have been managing travel during the pandemic.
It’s gross in the way that Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle described the topcoat of her nail polish – “it’s perfumy but there is also something rotten.”
In the rich mix, you’ll find the queue-jumpers, eager to travel and eager to get jabbed at all costs.
A private concierge service, the Knightsbridge Circle, popped up to meet their demand by flying its British members to the UAE and India to receive vaccinations as part of its £25 000-a-year fee (around R500 000).
For COVID-19 testing, things took on a similar tone with services like the London Medical Concierge available to provide all that one might need for their next trip.
The ‘COVID concierge’ charges £800 per person (R16 400) for an amber testing package and £294 (R6 000) for a single at-home Fit to Fly test.
Moving on to the matter of flying.
Because major airlines around the world were grounded, it was goodbye business or first-class seats on commercial airlines, and hello to a seat on a private jet instead:
Speaking about the boom in new business when travel restrictions were at their tightest earlier this year, a rep for Chapman Freeborn, a global air charter company, told [Annabel]: “In the first quarter of 2021, our European bookings were up 65 per cent in February, 100 per cent in March and 150 per cent in April compared with the previous months.
“Compared with the same period in 2020 we are experiencing a 400 per cent increase in the number of small jet charters. Many of these are from people who used to fly first-class but have now turned to private jets in the wake of COVID-19.”
As for the holiday itself, well, you won’t need to Photoshop any strangers out of your pictures because the streets and sites are empty in some of the world’s most touristy spots.
Annabel is not unaware of the moral conundrum, even though she got to experience the “magical state of crowdless suspension” in Venice and Santorini:
One on hand, it sounds outrageously elitist to indulge in minibreaks like this during a global health crisis. On the other, holiday spots that rely so heavily on tourism are crying out for visitors and the business they bring, no matter how few. Make what you will of that moral conundrum.
It’s just a matter of getting there, which most people can’t afford.
Annabel says that some of the world’s wealthiest folk get to skip quarantine altogether, or they can jut hide out at a grand countryside home:
If the Government Covid marshalls knock at their door and they aren’t present, they can easily afford the £10 000 maximum punishment.
As one acquaintance told me, freshly back from St Tropez with front row tickets to the Euros this summer, “I’d take the fine any day over missing that game.”
We say it all the time, but it really must be nice.
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