Amid the ridiculous outfits at the Met Gala last night, between the faux-socialist in her absurd ‘Tax the Rich’ dress and whatever that was that Kim Kardashian was attempting, stood a row of servants, masked. The celebrities, of course, were not. If there’s one thing we have collectively learnt during the 18 months of this pandemic is that the rules don’t apply to the rich and famous.
A year ago I wrote about the open hypocrisy of holding MTV’s Video Music Awards in New York while the city’s inhabitants were still largely forced into our homes:
Our restaurants are only allowed to offer outdoor seating and must close at 11 p.m. You cannot go out for drinks, unless you order food as well. Gyms are closed. Movie theatres are closed. Our schools may not reopen. Funerals must be limited to close family only. Live concerts, even outside, are not allowed. If a bar or restaurant offers live music they are not allowed to charge a cover. The music must be incidental to the dining experience. The city is in crisis.
But it was August 2020, a chaotic time. It’s now September 2021 and little has changed. vice president Kamala Harris’s ‘model’ stepdaughter Ella Emhoff posed for pictures at the Met Gala with a mask on, then took it off. Her sequin mask, of course, offered little protection from Covid anyway but it continues to be galling that the rest of us have to engage in Covid safety theatre while the rich and famous don’t even need to go through the motions.
Because the politicians and celebrities of the night are denizens of the American left, excuses for their behaviour were swiftly made. But none of the passes given to the elite apply to us plebs. Sure, all the politicians and celebrities last night were vaccinated. But in November 2020, you could watch Jennifer Lopez grind up on Pitbull at the American Music Awards while the rest of us were being told to skip Thanksgiving with our families. There were no vaccines yet.
Today, all teachers in NYC schools, and in cities around the country, must be vaccinated yet are still forced to wear masks. Being vaccinated only makes invincible those with many zeroes in their bank accounts.
‘But look, these celebrities only went maskless outside. They had to wear masks indoors. Everyone knows wearing a mask outside is silly,’ goes the argument. My five-year-old continues to have to wear a mask for recess. Outside, still, today. There is nothing anyone can say to make it make sense. There is no logic or science behind the rule that kids must be masked at all times, inside and out. Study after study has shown that an unvaccinated child has lower risks than a vaccinated adult. The real problem is that the child is not famous.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also attended the gala with his wife and son. ‘The message, the goals of this gala really celebrate diversity and inclusion, the things we need to focus on, the things that make this city great,’ he said. ‘And it’s important that this is an event looked at around the country, around the world. I wanted to support it because it’s another example of New York City coming back strong.’ Diversity and inclusion, but only for the rich and famous, obviously.
No one has done more to codify a different tier for the elites than Mayor Bill de Blasio. In his city, only 37 per cent of black people and less than half of Hispanics have been vaccinated. In the mayor’s Executive Order 225 he ordered ‘that a covered entity shall not permit a patron, full- or part-time employee, intern, volunteer, or contractor to enter a covered premises without displaying proof of vaccination and identification bearing the same identifying information as the proof of vaccination.’ Anyone doing any business indoors in New York City must be vaccinated. 63 per cent of black people and 51 per cent of Hispanics will be left out. So much for diversity and inclusion.
The only exemptions in de Blasio’s Executive Order were given to people who matter. Performers, athletes and, of course, their entourages do not need to show evidence of vaccination to work indoors in New York City. The rules are not made for them.
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This article first appeared on The Spectator's world edition website.