Covid-19

How the ultra rich in SA will cope amid Covid-19 outbreak

22 March 2020 - 00:00 By JEFF WICKS
Diana Thompson on holiday. Now she is in lockdown with her husband and three year- old son.
Diana Thompson on holiday. Now she is in lockdown with her husband and three year- old son.
Image: Instagram

SA’s super-rich have not been spared the inconvenience of Covid-19: cancelling holidays and suspending shopping sprees and weekly trips to the spa.

For Diana Thompson, a housewife from the plush avenues of the Mount Edgecombe Golf Estate on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, her life has “changed completely”.“

My husband is isolating after a trip to the UK and our son is not going to school. We don’t plan on leaving the house at all for the next two weeks,” she told the Sunday Times.

As she and others from the upper crust hunker down, high-end golf courses have received cancellations and beauty and aesthetic studios have lost clients. Aviation firms that cater to the mega wealthy have had a dip in jet charters.

Thompson’s Instagram page, dubbed “the housewife diaries”, is awash with images of her on the beach in the Maldives, on holiday with her family at luxury game reserves, and follows her daily routine of shopping and beauty treatments.

That time has passed, she says, insisting that sacrificing part of her lavish lifestyle is a price she’ll pay to keep her husband and three-year-old son safe.

“I have eyelash extensions and that is something that requires regular upkeep, but that will have to come to an end,” she said.

“I have taken off all my artificial nails and a hard one for me is that there is no more wandering through shopping centres to buy clothes. I’m not a great online shopper but I think I will just have to become one,” the 33-year-old said.

As part of her husband’s isolation, she has moved into a separate wing of the house and there was no contact, “just in case”.

In the US, the richest one percent is also bracing for an increase in infections.

Bloomberg reported that the rich can afford to prepare for a pandemic with perks such as private plane rides out of town, calls with world-leading experts and access to the best medical care.

Johan Piek, club director at the upmarket Leopard Creek golf estate in Mpumalanga,said its links were closed.

“This has had a substantial impact on our green-fee revenue,” he said. A round of golf at the club can cost up to R5,000 a person.The problem is the same at Fancourt in George, with sales manager Peter Dros saying that tee-off times had been abandoned.

“A lot of our business comes from tourists and with the travel bans we lose that. But people are generally staying away.”

Karin Lusse, of Medisculpt aesthetic clinic in Johannesburg, said it had received a flood of cancellations.

Gavin Kiggen, vice-president of aviation charter firm ExecuJet Africa, said the global crisis had hamstrung his business .

“We’ve had various requests from South Africans wanting to return to SA.

“However, some countries have completely locked down on air travel,” he said.

“Domestically, we’ve not seen a dramatic rise in charter flights as it seems people in general are avoiding travel at this point in time .”

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