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People around the world have been struggling with the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Life for most people has changed in some way. From working at home to not being able to meet friends and family, the past year has been difficult in a number of ways. Now, attention in multiple countries is turning to the way the rich and famous have been handling the restrictions. Reports have become increasingly frequent of celebrities, politicians and the wealthiest in society flouting COVID-19 restrictions, even as regular people are unable to leave their houses.

In France, it was recently revealed through undercover journalists, that the rich and powerful of Paris had been going to underground restaurants. These restaurants are hidden away in Paris and cost hundreds of euros per person. Meanwhile, restaurants and businesses across France have been closed down under government orders for months. In one video, a waiter can be heard saying that once people enter the restaurant “there’s no more COVID” and that people in the restaurant “don’t wear masks”. In another video, a woman is heard saying that she had dined at two or three restaurants that week and that some government ministers were in attendance. The videos sparked anger across France with people claiming that there are different rules for regular people and wealthy people. French people are angry that while regular people are suffering through the latest lockdown, nothing appears to be different for the more powerful members of society. The restaurant videos went viral across social media in France with people using the hashtag “we want the names” while demanding that the offenders be punished.

Across the border in Belgium, there has also been widespread anger at the actor Brad Pitt. Pitt flew into Belgium by private jet at the end of March to support his friend’s art exhibition which opens on April 22. However, all non-essential travel is banned in Belgium and people were quick to criticise what they perceived as being a non-essential trip. Anyone arriving in Belgium currently has to sign a document stating that their trip is for purely essential business reasons. This led to people questioning how and why he was even able to get into the country. While in Belgium, Pitt was also given a private tour of an art museum that is closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions. Like in France, this generated claims that there are different rules for the rich during the pandemic.

The disconnect between regular people and celebrities is starkest in Australia where many celebrities have been living throughout the pandemic. A long list of celebrities have been in Australia with some Australians giving the country the nickname “Aussiewood”, after Hollywood. Celebrities have been attracted to Australia because of the relative lack of COVID-19 cases in the country. This is due in part to the incredibly strict restrictions that Australia has put on people entering the country. The Australian government implemented a limit on travel into the country by putting a cap on the number of passengers that planes can carry. Consequently, planes that would normally carry 200-300 people can now only carry a maximum of 40 people. Although the measures are designed to limit the risk of coronavirus outbreaks stemming from international travel, it has had the unfortunate side-effect of pricing out regular people. Due to the limits, airlines have started to prioritise business and first-class customers over the cheaper economy seats. Flights from Europe to Australia can now cost between A$3000 ($2,280 US) and A$15,000 ($11,400 US). That also doesn’t include the cost of the mandatory quarantine upon arrival in Australia. The hotel quarantine fee is A$3000 per person. It is estimated that at least 40,000 Australians are still stranded in other countries because they cannot get back home. Even if they can afford the high flight and quarantine fees, it isn’t easy to get onto a flight because of the overwhelming demand.

Although the strict limits in the desperate pandemic situation are understandable, it is how the Australian government is treating the rich and famous that is generating criticism. The government has been accused of having more flexible rules for prominent people. The government allowed 1,700 tennis players and officials into the country in January for the Australian Open, just days after halving the number of people that were allowed to enter the country. This caused outrage amongst the many Australians who are still stranded abroad and their families back home. Another issue has been with the quarantines. While regular people are paying the A$3000 mandatory payment for a hotel room quarantine, celebrities have been allowed by the government to quarantine themselves in private mansions. The lack of support from the government for regular people trying to get back home has led to accusations that the government has a “two-tier” system for handling arrivals into the country.

Many people are tired of the pandemic restrictions after a year of lockdowns, not seeing family and friends and not leaving their homes. Celebrities casually flouting the rules are an easy target for the ire of people stuck at home for over a year. The injustice of feeling like there is one rule for normal people and another for wealthy people is especially pervasive during this trying time.

Difficult words

Flouting (v): To openly disregard something.

Viral (adj): Being rapidly circulated on the internet.

Starkest (adj): Obvious and easy to see.

Implement (v): To put into use.

Stemming (v): Coming from something, originate from.

Stranded (adj): Left somewhere with no help.

Halving (v): To be cut in half.

Ire (n): Anger, annoyance.

Pervasive (adj): Spreading widely throughout an area or group.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

American English Audio:

Match the Synonym!

1. FloutingA. Obvious
2. ViralB. Helpless
3. StarkestC. Disregard
4. Implement D. Prevalent
5. StemmingE. Divided
6. StrandedF. Use
7. HalvingG. Anger
8. IreH. Originate
9. PervasiveI. Quickly circulated.

True or False?

1. COVID-19 has caused people to struggle around the world. T / F

2. French people are happy with how celebrities in their country have carefully followed lockdown restrictions. T / F

3. Videos of wealthy people eating in restaurants has gone viral in Germany. T / F

4. Brad Pitt was not permitted access to Belgium when he tried to fly there. T / F

5. Brad Pitt was given a private tour of a museum that had been closed to the public. T / F

6. Many celebrities have flown to Australia because of the lack of COVID-19 cases. T / F

7. The Australian government has made sure every single citizen can come home. T / F

8. Airlines have prioritised business and first-class customers for flights to Australia. T / F

9. The Australian government denied 1,700 tennis players from entering the country. T / F

10. Many celebrities in Australia are being granted quarantines in private mansions. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

  1. have / been struggling / People / of / COVID-19 pandemic / around the / with / world / the / the / ramifications

2. restaurants / These / per person / Paris / of / cost hundreds / in / euros / and / away / are hidden

3. media / went / social / viral / France / in / The / restaurant / across / videos

4. of / Pitt / end / flew / the / into / private / at / by / March / Belgium / jet

5. is / regular / people / Australia / in / disconnect / between / starkest / The / celebrities / and

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

American English Audio:

WidespreadPowerfulMaximum
StrugglingEstimatedTarget
GeneratedOutrageUndercover

People around the world have been (1)___________ with the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Life for most people has changed in some way. From working at home to not being able to meet friends and family, the past year has been difficult in a number of ways. Now, attention in multiple countries is turning to the way the rich and famous have been handling the restrictions. Reports have become increasingly frequent of celebrities, politicians and the wealthiest in society flouting COVID-19 restrictions, even as regular people are unable to leave their houses.

In France, it was recently revealed through (2)___________ journalists, that the rich and powerful of Paris had been going to underground restaurants. These restaurants are hidden away in Paris and cost hundreds of euros per person. Meanwhile, restaurants and businesses across France have been closed down under government orders for months. In one video, a waiter can be heard saying that once people enter the restaurant “there’s no more COVID” and that people in the restaurant “don’t wear masks”. In another video, a woman is heard saying that she had dined at two or three restaurants that week and that some government ministers were in attendance. The videos sparked anger across France with people claiming that there are different rules for regular people and wealthy people. French people are angry that while regular people are suffering through the latest lockdown, nothing appears to be different for the more (3)___________ members of society. The restaurant videos went viral across social media in France with people using the hashtag “we want the names” while demanding that the offenders be punished.

Across the border in Belgium, there has also been (4)___________ anger at the actor Brad Pitt. Pitt flew into Belgium by private jet at the end of March to support his friend’s art exhibition which opens on April 22. However, all non-essential travel is banned in Belgium and people were quick to criticise what they perceived as being a non-essential trip. Anyone arriving in Belgium currently has to sign a document stating that their trip is for purely essential business reasons. This led to people questioning how and why he was even able to get into the country. While in Belgium, Pitt was also given a private tour of an art museum that is closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions. Like in France, this (5)___________ claims that there are different rules for the rich during the pandemic.

The disconnect between regular people and celebrities is starkest in Australia where many celebrities have been living throughout the pandemic. A long list of celebrities have been in Australia with some Australians giving the country the nickname “Aussiewood”, after Hollywood. Celebrities have been attracted to Australia because of the relative lack of COVID-19 cases in the country. This is due in part to the incredibly strict restrictions that Australia has put on people entering the country. The Australian government implemented a limit on travel into the country by putting a cap on the number of passengers that planes can carry. Consequently, planes that would normally carry 200-300 people can now only carry a (6)____________ of 40 people. Although the measures are designed to limit the risk of coronavirus outbreaks stemming from international travel, it has had the unfortunate side-effect of pricing out regular people. Due to the limits, airlines have started to prioritise business and first-class customers over the cheaper economy seats. Flights from Europe to Australia can now cost between A$3000 ($2,280 US) and A$15,000 ($11,400 US). That also doesn’t include the cost of the mandatory quarantine upon arrival in Australia. The hotel quarantine fee is A$3000 AUD per person. It is (7)___________ that at least 40,000 Australians are still stranded in other countries because they cannot get back home. Even if they can afford the high flight and quarantine fees, it isn’t easy to get onto a flight because of the overwhelming demand.

Although the strict limits in the desperate pandemic situation are understandable, it is how the Australian government is treating the rich and famous that is generating criticism. The government has been accused of having more flexible rules for prominent people. The government allowed 1,700 tennis players and officials into the country in January for the Australian Open, just days after halving the number of people that were allowed to enter the country. This caused (8)__________ amongst the many Australians who are still stranded abroad and their families back home. Another issue has been with the quarantines. While regular people are paying the A$3000 mandatory payment for a hotel room quarantine, celebrities have been allowed by the government to quarantine themselves in private mansions. The lack of support from the government for regular people trying to get back home has led to accusations that the government has a “two-tier” system for handling arrivals into the country.

Many people are tired of the pandemic restrictions after a year of lockdowns, not seeing family and friends and not leaving their homes. Celebrities casually flouting the rules are an easy (9)________ for the ire of people stuck at home for over a year. The injustice of feeling like there is one rule for normal people and another for wealthy people is especially pervasive during this trying time.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. How strong have the pandemic restrictions been in your country?
5. Have there been different rules for the rich and famous in your country?
6. How angry should people be at those who are being treated differently?
7. Are there any examples from your country where people got angry at rulebreakers?
8. How well do regular people follow the COVID restrictions in your country?
9. Should the rich and famous need to follow the same rules as everyone else?
10. If you were famous, would you do the same as these celebrities?
11. Do you think Australia will be stricter because of the angry people?
12. Have any people from your country been unable to come home?
13. Should Brad Pitt have been allowed to go to Belgium?
14. Should people be angrier at the governments or the celebrities?
15. Should celebrities have to quarantine in the same hotels as everyone else?
16. What do you think about the high quarantine fees in Australia and other countries?
17. Is there a mandatory quarantine fee in your country?
18. Are people allowed to travel into your country now?
19. What do you think about the underground restaurants in Paris?
20. Is your country a popular place to film movies?