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How the Rich and Famous Have Partied During the Pandemic

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Rich and Above the Rules

We all know the rich and famous are not just like us, and that has perhaps never been more starkly obvious than during the pandemic. Many went on with life as normal despite coronavirus-related health and safety concerns and regulations that kept the rest of us in check. Here's a look at some of the most infamous — and blood-boiling — examples of pandemic privilege, including U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson infamously breaking his very own rules.


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Boris Johnson
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Boris Johnson Is Fined For Breaching His Own Regulations

Prime Minister Boris Johnson flouted his own government's pandemic restrictions by reportedly throwing parties during lockdown at government offices, but is now being fined for it. Johnson apparently invited friends to 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the prime minister, in May 2020, a debacle that came to light nearly two years later. While the invite did specify socially distanced drinks in the garden, the line “Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!” irritated many, causing opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer to say Johnson lacked the moral authority to lead the country. And that one boozy shindig wasn't all, apparently. Government official Sue Gray investigated 16 alleged parties held in government departments.


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Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals
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Celebrities Partied at the Super Bowl Without Masks

Despite KN95 masks being handed out for free at the Super Bowl — and a mandate for all attendees ages 2 and up to mask up unless actively eating or drinking — very few fans, celebrities included, were actually observed wearing them at the February event. California even had a statewide mandate for people to wear masks indoors at the time. Still, celebrities including Matt Damon, Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck, LeBron James, Chris Tucker, and Charlize Theron were captured on camera with nothing but smiles on their faces. Many observers were angry that California schoolchildren are still required to wear masks in school while famous adults seemed to openly flout the rules. 


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Novak Djokovic
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Novak Djokovic Put Partying Above Precautions

Tennis star Novak Djokovic has been trying to live his best life over the last two years, despite a pandemic. In June 2020, he and other tennis pros were called out for partying hard at a Serbian nightclub, which led to a number of positive Covid cases and game cancellations. Djokovic's questionable decisions didn't end there — he flew to Australia to play in the 2022 Australian Open, but was denied entry because he is against being vaccinated. Despite Djokovic trying to seek a medical exemption, the country put him in immigration detention and eventually kicked him out. Australia has strict COVID-19 rules that incoming travelers must have had two shots of an approved vaccine, or must have an exemption with an actual medical reason to avoid quarantine.


Related: 18 Ways the Pandemic Changed Travel



Cheers
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Canadian Influencers Partied Hard During Omicron

A group of social-media influencers recently found themselves stranded in Cancun after several Canadian airlines refused to fly them home. That was after they filmed themselves partying on a chartered jet, maskless and drinking, during the omicron surge as they flew from Montreal to Mexico. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the group "idiots" and said the videos felt like a "slap in the face" to everyone who had been working hard to stay safe.


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Rita Ora
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Rita Ora Paid Off a Restaurant to Break the Rules

British pop singer Rita Ora got caught when internet sleuths discovered she'd put her 30th birthday party above the law. Ora's team reportedly paid a London restaurant over $6,000 to break lockdown rules in November 2020 and hold a party for her and a number of friends. To add insult to injury, Ora posted on Instagram the day before the event that she was spending her birthday at home, alone. And to add even more insult to more injury, Ora broke her own quarantine to attend the party, having just flown back from Egypt a week earlier. 

Kim Kardashian
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Kim Kardashian Hosted a Private-Island Bash

Oh, to be a Kardashian without a care in the world. Kim Kardashian took even more heat than Ora for her 40th birthday party, thrown on a private island in October 2020. While Kardashian says guests quarantined prior to the party and went through "multiple health screenings," observers were unimpressed, especially as the U.S. struggled with surging COVID-19 cases and record unemployment. "This is so grotesque," ranted one Twitter user. "The rich can pretend to be normal on a private island. Actual normal people are cancelling their Thanksgiving and Christmas."

house party
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Bryce Hall's Massive 21st Birthday Party

Though it's hard to say exactly who Bryce Hall is, it seems this particular faux-celeb was violating health precautions in Los Angeles so blatantly that the city's mayor saw fit to turn his electricity off. The YouTuber and TikTok, er ... personality? celebrity? (you decide), threw a blowout bash to celebrate turning 21 in August 2020. Shortly after the bash, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a statement about the situation. "We need every resident to undertake critical safeguards to stop the spread of this virus," Garcetti's statement said. "That includes not hosting or attending parties that put themselves, their neighbors, and many others at risk." Apparently several warnings had been issued in regard to parties at Sway House, where Hall lives. 

Justin and Hailey Bieber
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Justin and Hailey Bieber's House Party

Also in August 2020, Justin and Hailey Bieber decided to flat-out ignore COVID-19 warnings and strict social distancing measures and throw an extravagant house party at their Beverly Hills home for singer Justine Skye's birthday. The guests included another set of famous names: Kendall and Kylie Jenner. Gatherings of any size that contained people from different households were prohibited under Los Angeles County's health orders. Oh, and there wasn't a mask in sight.

Travis Kalanick
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Ex-Uber CEO Hosts Party Amid Los Angeles COVID-19 Spike

File this one under "another out-of-touch-move from a billionaire." In the middle of a spike in COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles, former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick threw a party. Sure, the gathering was supposedly held outside, but how many parties have you hosted lately? "They just can't stop themselves from throwing parties and going on their jets and socializing as if everything was normal," a source close to several tech CEOs told the Vanity Fair writer who reported on Kalanick's party in August 2020.

 

Jake Paul and Logan Paul
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YouTuber Jake Paul Partied with Abandon

YouTube strikes again. In this case, Jake Paul (apparently a well-known 23-year-old YouTuber with significant bank) didn't pause for even a second in throwing massive parties at his Los Angeles pad amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Most notably, in July 2020, Paul hosted a party attended by dozens of influencers, TikTok stars, and YouTube celebrities. "I personally am not the type of person who is gonna sit around and not live my life," he said. Evidently, that particular punishment is reserved for the rest of us saps.

David Solomon
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Goldman Sachs CEO DJs a Covid-y Concert

Perhaps when you're the CEO of Goldman Sachs, you can do whatever you want. And maybe you and all your friends are also immune to coronavirus? Or can get private COVID-19 testing done on demand? Uber-wealthy David Solomon was the DJ (yes, really) for a Hamptons concert in July 2020 that morphed into a dance party attended by thousands of people who were reportedly in close proximity to each other, violating state health orders. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo labeled the whole affair "egregious." 

David Geffen Yacht
David Geffen Yacht by Scott Smith (CC BY-NC-ND)

David Geffen's Pandemic Isolation ... On His Yacht

When you're worth some $7.7 billion, it can be hard to relate to the struggles of the masses. This fact was on full display when David Geffen opted to post on Instagram in March 2020 about how he was protecting himself from the pandemic — on a private yacht in the Caribbean. The post, which has since been taken down, stated, "Isolated in the Grenadines avoiding the virus. I'm hoping everybody is staying safe." Meanwhile, the rest of us were either locked down or fighting over toilet paper.