Some wealthy homeowners — like Martha Stewart — are quarantining with their staff and paying a premium for live-in service

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On a recent episode of Seth Meyers’ talk show, Martha Stewart said her staff is quarantining with her. Peter Kramer/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Some of the elite are asking their household staff to quarantine with them indefinitely.

Peter Mahler, head of Mahler Private Staffing, told Katherine Clarke for The Wall Street Journal that about 40% of his clients have quarantined with their staff.

Consider Martha Stewart, who said her driver, housekeeper, and gardener at her Bedford estate are staying at separate residences on her property during the pandemic. “We have three detainees, I call them,” she said in a video chat on Seth Meyers’ talk show. “We make a nice dinner every night. We have a cocktail. We play cards after dinner.”

In a time when unemployment claims have reached a record high, staff are facing enticing offers to quarantine: as much as 30% raises, Mahler said. But even if staff decide not to quarantine with their bosses, many wealthy families are still paying staff, David Youdovin, owner of Hire Society in Manhattan, told Clarke.

In non-pandemic times, a full-time staff – which typically includes a chief of staff, management team, butler, assistant, chef, housekeeper, nanny, tutor, chauffeur, and houseman – already costs a pretty penny. Youdovin previously told Business Insider that, depending on level of experience, the price for a full-time staff ranges from $US1.03 million to $US2.4 million a year – and that’s not including health benefits and bonuses.

The wealthy are quarantining in luxury

Many wealthy urbanites have fled their big city dwellings to ride out the pandemic in vacation or rental homes.

New York City residents have headed upstate to the mountains and out to the Hamptons. They, along with other east coast city dwellers, have also infiltrated coastal New England, flocking to some of Massachusetts’ most elite enclaves and Maine’s islands. Out west, the wealthy are sheltering at ski resorts, from Idaho to Wyoming.

Having access to more spacious quarters is just one of many luxuries the wealthy have to make their quarantines more comfortable. They’re also helicoptering in quarantine supplies, paying limo drivers hundreds to shuttle their mail from Manhattan to the Hamptons, and buying out hotels to self-isolate in.

Quarantining with staff is yet another form of luxury. But Youdovin told Clarke that not all staff want to relocate to their owner’s vacation homes, leaving some wealthy families trying to hire locally via Zoom interviews.

Regardless, the need or desire to have staff during quarantine is more evidence of how the wealthy are experiencing a more plush pandemic than the average person.

Are you a household staff member quarantining with your boss? We’d like to hear from you. Email [email protected]