America is facing an unprecedented challenge right now, with authorities urging citizens to remain at home unless absolutely necessary. The result? Previously bustling centers of public activity are virtually deserted, creating an atmosphere right out of a zombie flick. Here’s a look some of these now-empty cities around the world and the measures that are leaving them barren.
Governor Gavin Newsom of California announced sweeping anti-viral measures on the evening of March 19, urging residents to stay inside their homes as much as possible. However, state officials said residents were encouraged to get out of the house to exercise and buy groceries, so long as a safe distance is kept from others, per the New York Times.
Governor Newsom ordered the closure of non-essential businesses like retail shops, malls, and corporate offices. Meanwhile, essential services such as grocers, banks, pharmacies, and laundromats will remain open. Healthcare and municipal services like buses will also stay open.
The governor cited projections indicating that 56% of Californians could be infected within an eight-week period, hoping to avoid that outcome. “The point of the stay at home order is to make those numbers moot,” he said.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo followed with a similar announcement on March 20, hoping to “[close] the valve” of new infections in the state, per the New York Times. The state advised residents to stay in, especially those over age 65, while “restrictions” have reportedly been placed on those 70 and up.
While Governor Cuomo stressed that public transportation and roadways would not be closed, he asked nonessential businesses to keep workers at home. Still, the governor stressed that these guidelines are not a “shelter-in-place” order, but are still “the most drastic action we can take.”
New York has been one of the hardest-hit cities in the by COVID-19, accounting for more than half of the cases in the US.
Meanwhile in Nevada, Governor Steve Sisolak has urged citizens to stay at home as much as possible for 30 days. As in California and New York, the governor pledged to keep essential businesses open. Guidelines for essential businesses are generally the same as the other two states, with grocery stores, health services and other public services remaining open.
However, food service is now restricted take-out, drive-thru, curbside pickup or delivery. With so much of Vegas’s economy based in the hospitality industry, these measures have created an eerie quiet on the usually bustling Strip, one that echoes through normally-packed public centers across the nation.
Across the Atlantic, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a nationwide lockdown as of Monday, March 23. “From this evening, I must give the British people a very simple instruction: you must stay at home,” Johnson said in his announcement, per CNET. “You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say no. You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home.”
As with other shelter-in-place orders worldwide, residents are allowed to leave for essential functions only, “as infrequently as possible.” Police will enforce these guidelines with fines and dispersals of unauthorized gatherings. This crackdown on public gathering has made an impact on crowds at attractions like the London Eye Ferris wheel.
Recent weeks have seen confirmed cases of COVID-19 skyrocket in Italy, to the point where the European nation had topped 5,500 cases as of Sunday, March 22. The death toll in Italy has reportedly surpassed that in China, the virus’ nation of origin, with 6,077 deaths as of March 23.
As such, the country has adopted especially strict measures to halt the spread of the disease. Not only has the government closed all non-essential businesses, but movement through the country has also been completely banned, reports the Guardian. As a result, an ominous stillness has descended on such popular tourist destinations as the Venice canals.
Empty Cities in US — Sources:
New York Times — “Gov. Gavin Newsom of California Orders Californians to Stay at Home”
New York Times — “It’s Not ‘Shelter in Place’: What the New Coronavirus Restrictions Mean”
New York Magazine