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Life during the COVID-19 pandemic – Photos capture a world on hold

by Apr 17, 2020Essays

Photos show the realities of life during the COVID-19 pandemic – life on hold, people from Los Angeles to Paris sheltering at home and leaving normally packed squares devoid of life. We crowdsourced a series of photos from around the world to offer a small peek at what life looks like in Spring 2020 during the coronavirus global lockdown. 

Photographers have been showing us the world on hold as one way to demonstrate the reality of this global pandemic — empty plazas and streets, both funny and serious signage, people peering out of windows or balconies, and other images that help us relate to the global nature of the situation. So we decided to call on our friends and colleagues around the globe for another collection of images that continue that story.

In this photo essay, there are photographs from bloggers, journalists, photographers, retailers, marketing people and other friends. Each tells its own story of life during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The call for contributions to our project was put out in March via our social media channels and also by direct contact. We kept holding off publishing since more great stories kept trickling in. At this point, we have included submissions from all around the world — Stockholm, Berlin, Paris, Innsbruck, Boston, New Orleans, London,  New York, and California. Each photograph provides a glimpse into hometowns and areas not commonly seen in many news outlets — perhaps the desolate train station around the corner, a neighborhood eatery set up for take-out, or an empty river tour boat. Some of the photographs tell a story as the photographer scrambled home. Some of the photographs reveal a bit of humor, which we all need during these challenging times, too.

We will continue to publish more photos in future essays as we document “Life during the COVID-19 pandemic” from around the world. Be sure to read our submission guidelines and then send us your best photos for possible inclusion. Take a camera when you are out for exercise or shopping for groceries – but always be safe, adhere to government regulations, and always follow social distancing guidelines and health authority instructions please!

Life during the COVID-19 pandemic” – A crowdsourced photo project by HI Travel Tales

BERLIN, GERMANY

Bab Homar medina gate in Asilah, Morocco

Spree River, March 15, 2020. Walking along the Spree River through Berlin’s central district on a cool, but sunny Sunday afternoon. The river banks, bridges, and paths would normally be packed with people with tour boats filled to capacity. But not in mid-March. The only people out, for the most part, are the few tourists left in the city, mostly Europeans it seems. Those few who took a boat tour are sitting as “distanced” as possible. Within days of this photo, Berlin went into a full lockdown with all non-essential services closed.  Photo by Michael Hodgson.

Bab Homar medina gate in Asilah, Morocco

Berlin-Tegel Airport, March 27, 2020. As Germany’s capital city’s main international airport, Tegel is a place where locals spend a lot of time in. Berlin-based travel bloggers Susanne and Patrick Jungbluth often flew on the first planes at 6 a.m. or returned on one of the last planes at night from somewhere else in Europe. Never had they witnessed the airport pickup and drop-off area so empty of cars, buses, taxis or people.  Photo by Susanne Jungbluth of From Place to Place Travel.

Old city walls at sunset in Asilah, Morocco

Berlin-Tegel Airport, Terminal A, March 18, 2020. Therese Iknoian walks through a virtually empty Terminal A at Tegel Airport at 6 a.m. We were on our way home, flying first to London Heathrow. Normally at this hour, the terminal is already teeming with people, flying out to destinations around the world on Turkish Airlines, British Airways and more. But not today. Photo by Michael Hodgson. Read Therese’s essay, Feeling like Pac-Man traveling in the age of coronavirus, about our last week there before scampering out with Pac-man seemingly at our heels.

Old city walls at sunset in Asilah, Morocco

Brandenburg Gate, March 30, 2020. Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin’s most important monuments, having been isolated in No Man’s Land between East and West Germany before the Berlin Wall fell. The square there, Pariser Platz, in front of it is usually packed with tourists and tour groups, bikes and musicians, hawkers and photographers. On this day, during the lockdown, it remains desolate, save for a few individuals out for a bit of “distanced” exercise as allowed at the time in Germany. Photo by Sigrid Doesseler.

Old city walls at sunset in Asilah, Morocco

Berlin Airport Bus, March 18, 2020. Inside the airport bus going to Tegel Airport from the main train station in Berlin. Transportation authorities has just decreed no passengers to have contact with drivers, and blocked the front of the bus with police tape to ensure passengers kept their distance. Photo by Therese Iknoian. Read Michael’s essay, Goodbye Berlin – Hello to a world forever changed, about the sadness he felt about leaving and the last days there.

LONDON, ENGLAND

Old city walls at sunset in Asilah, Morocco

Heathrow Airport, Terminal 3, March 18, 2020. Near our departure gate, waiting to board our flight home to Los Angeles, we looked around and noticed a swarm of haz-mat suits, then noticed the neighboring gate had a flight headed to Hong Kong. Then the boarding announcement, the scene was like an old-style science fiction movie about a global pandemic as the space filled with boarding passengers — suited up in all kinds of gear. No movie — this was real. Photo by Michael Hodgson. Read Michael’s essay, Goodbye Berlin – Hello to a world forever changed.

PARIS, FRANCE

Shadows and colors in Chefchouen

Canal Saint-Martin, Paris, France, March 27, 2020. Spring is reawakening the ancient trees but Paris in lockdown is a pale version of her lively self. The streets are virtually empty, and those that venture out for the one hour permissible keep their distance from each other. The sound of heels eerily echoes on cobblestone streets. The banks along Canal Saint-Martin long to be crowded once again with tourists and Parisians — but for now all stay “chez nous” (at home) until COVID-19 is under control. Photo by Alison Browne of Dreamer at Heart.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Marinid Tombs above Fez, Morocco

King’s Garden, Stockholm, Sweden, April 3, 2020. Cherry blossoms are in full bloom in Kungsträdgården (King’s Garden) in Stockholm. Normally, this would mean the park and plaza would be full of tourists and locals. The plaza’s nickname is in fact “Stockholm’s outdoor living room” since it is normally a lively hub to meet with others, hang out at restaurants, or just take a nice walk. Because of COVID-19 worries, there are just a few lone locals getting some fresh air. Photo by Matthias Assmann, CEO and founder of Mandel and Friends.

INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA

Marinid Tombs above Fez, Morocco

The Golden Roof, Old Town Innsbruck, Austria, April 6, 2020. The main town square in front of the famed Golden Roof balcony in the heart of historic Innsbruck is usually thronged by tour groups and travelers. The balcony and roof have reigned over the main square for more than 500 years. But not now. A rare look at an empty square due to the COVID-19 lockdown in Austria. Photo by Linh Nguyen.

NEW YORK CITY

Sunset in Rabat

West 45th Street, Manhattan, from a rooftop, March 23, 2020. Looking northeast from a rooftop across midtown Manhattan at about 8 p.m. The skyline shows skyscrapers between 8th and 5th avenues — sans the usual passers-by heading to and from the nearby theater district or a night out in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Photo by Tommy Thomson.

Sunset in Rabat

West Side Highway at 44th Street, Manhattan, March 26, 2020. It’s 5:30 p.m., and normally the West Side Highway would be gridlock in both directions at the height or rush hour. Not on this day, with the city “on pause.” Photo by Tommy Thomson.

Sunset in Rabat

Heart of the Theater District, Manhattan, April 5, 2020. Standing on 45th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue, smack in the middle of Manhattan’s bustling theater district — well, formerly bustling. “Come From Away” was playing at the Schoenfeld Theater. Then the COVID-19 crisis hit the city. Tommy notes that all of his theater friends — from actors to ushers — are now out-of-work, along with so many others. Photo by Tommy Thomson, who is suited up appropriately with a face mask.

Sunset in Rabat

Washington Square, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, March 21, 2020. Washington Square, located in the heart of the campus of New York University in Greenwich Village, is bubbling kettle of life, night and day, from students to tourists to folks out for a little night air. Especially on a pleasant Saturday evening, a passer-by would be dodging musicians and hawkers alike. Klaus-Peter took this photo standing in the middle of 5th Avenue — also not something you’d normally be able to do without getting smooshed! Photo by Klaus-Peter Statz.

Sunset in Rabat

5th Avenue, Manhattan, March 25, 2020. Day 12 of the quarantine. A quiet spring afternoon walk down 5th Avenue in Manhattan. You heard right, practically down the middle of normally gridlocked 5th Avenue where Kimberly’s dog was even able to hang out leisurely. Photo by Kimberly Fisher of Jetsetera.net.

NEW ORLEANS

Sunset over Ait Ben Haddou in Morocco

Iberville Street, French Quarter, New Orleans, March 26, 2020. Seeing the sidewalks and streets of the world-famous French Quarter devoid of people and traffic is visually arresting in its contradiction to all that New Orleans is known and loved for. The communal spirit is all about welcoming everyone into it through the shared experiences of music, food, and celebrations in the streets. Thus, says Tami, the need to stay apart physically is a struggle. Photo by Tami Fairweather.

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIFORNIA

Moroccan fruit desert in Tamnougalt

Huntington Beach, Orange County, Calif., March 29, 2020. Typically, this popular beach would be crowded on a Sunday afternoon with surfers training for the Van’s U.S. Open of Surfing, the largest competition of its kind that takes place annually in August. Plus, beach-goers seeking some early spring sun. How quickly life changes. Now, signs try to emphasis the need for distance — and the beach is as good as empty. Photo by Sandra Foyt of Getaway Mavens.

Moroccan fruit desert in Tamnougalt

Huntington Beach, Orange County, Calif., March 29, 2020. Quiet day at one of California’s most popular surfing beaches, one of the few remaining open as COVID-19 measures go into effect. Nearby, at Manhattan Beach, a surfer was issued a $1,000 citation on March 28 for failing to follow stay-at-home orders! Photo by Sandra Foyt of  Getaway Mavens.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

Camels silhouettes at sunset in the Sahara

Andrew Station, Boston, Mass., March 31, 2020. The South Boston area around Andrew Square is a densely populated neighborhood in Boston, Mass. On a typical weekday morning, the Andrew subway (“T”) station is buzzing with commuter activity. Andrew Square station is a busy transportation hub with several bus lines that pass through in addition to the red line train stop. This photo was taken at 8:15 a.m., when you’d typically see buses lined up in the bays. There would be dozens of commuters waiting on the platforms with others pushing through the crowds to get to the subway tracks below. The street in front of the station is a major thoroughfare in and out of downtown Boston, so traffic backs up at the light – there would probably be a few bikers weaving in and out too, Brianne says. At this time, of course, more than a week into the governor’s stay-at-home order, it’s an eerily quiet scene to take in during a morning walk. Photo by Brianne Miers of A Traveling Life.

AUBURN, CALIFORNIA

Camels silhouettes at sunset in the Sahara

Tattoo Parlor, Auburn, Calif., April 13, 2020. The Gold Rush town of Auburn is a beloved outing on Sundays for a walk and breakfast out. But on Easter it was shut up tight, including a tattoo parlor that asked people on its boarded-up windows to stay home and noted it was closed “due to the Coronapocalypse.” Photo by Therese Iknoian. Read Therese’s essay, Feeling like Pac-Man traveling in the age of coronavirus, about our last week in Berlin in mid-March before doing a mad-dash out with Pac-man seemingly at our heels.

Camels silhouettes at sunset in the Sahara

Urban park, Old Town Auburn, Calif., April 13, 2020. A narrow “park” in Old Town Auburn is a hangout at all times of day for locals — and perhaps a few homeless. too. But city officials draped the benches and tables in the Herschel Young Park with police tape with a sign that said the “recreational feature” was closed. Of course, the benches are still open. Photo by Therese Iknoian.

GRASS VALLEY | NEVADA CITY, CALIFORNIA

Camels silhouettes at sunset in the Sahara

Asian Garden Restaurant, Grass Valley, Calif., April 2, 2020. The stay-at-home order has been devastating to many local businesses, though many are also doing what they can to remain open. Restaurants, like this one in the small Gold Rush town of Grass Valley, are taking phone orders or allowing you to park and place an order from your car. Once the food is ready, it is be delivered to your car by a person wearing a mask and gloves. A hand-sanitizing station stands by the door and pens to sign for credit card charges are set up outside to ease the process. Tape on the sidewalk marked six-foot intervals to ensure anyone standing outside and waiting for an order maintained proper social distancing. Photo by Therese Iknoian.

Camels silhouettes at sunset in the Sahara

Empire Mine State Park, Grass Valley, Calif., April 2, 2020. The sign reads, “In an effort to protect public health and safety as the state responds to COVID-19, this parking lot is temporarily closed … Thank you for your understanding and for visiting California’s state parks.” Officials were forced to close parking lots at state and community parks because they were becoming crowded. Social distancing became difficult as people sought sanctuary from stay-at-home orders in public green spaces. All state parks in California were closed on March 24 to vehicular access with official parking lots cordoned off with warnings of citations. A walk outdoors is only possible if you live nearby or can park in an area retail district. Photo by Michael Hodgson.

Camels silhouettes at sunset in the Sahara

Raley’s grocery store, Grass Valley, Calif., April 2, 2020. Nearly one month after Governor Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency in California in response to the spread of COVID-19 and panic-buying ensued, store shelves normally fully stocked with cleaning supplies remain empty. Photo by Michael Hodgson.

Camels silhouettes at sunset in the Sahara

UPS store, Grass Valley, Calif., April 10, 2020. Life in the age of COVID-19. In line to ship a package at the UPS store in Grass Valley. Clear demarcation for where customers are to stand and wait. No more than 10 customers allowed in the store at any one time. Every customer in the store and all employees are wearing masks in some fashion or another – most homemade. Doors to the store were propped open to minimize surface areas customers needed to handle. And after each customer left a station, the staff member would wipe down the credit card machine, pen, counter surface area, and any other surface the previous customer may have touched. Photo by Michael Hodgson.

Camels silhouettes at sunset in the Sahara

Bethel Church, Nevada County, Calif., April 13, 2020, Easter Sunday. For many, Easter is normally a day to head to church, partake in services, Easter Egg Hunts, and perhaps lunches or other fellowship. Not this year. This large community church’s parking lot is blocked to any access and the lot is vacant. Instead, this church as many others, had moved services and fellowship online. Photo by Therese Iknoian.

Camels silhouettes at sunset in the Sahara

United Methodist Church, Nevada City, Calif., April 12, 2020. Easter Sunday at the historic United Methodist Church in downtown Nevada City in the Sierra foothills, a sign notes that services were being streamed, but added that God’s love was never quarantined. Amen! Photo by Therese Iknoian.

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA

Camels silhouettes at sunset in the Sahara

Costco retail store, Roseville, Calif., April 3, 2020. Deemed an essential business and allowed to stay open during the mandatory stay-at-home order in California, Costco is limiting the number of people inside the store at any one time in addition to providing early shopping hours for customers over the age of 60, plus “fast track access” to any healthcare worker with an ID. With limited numbers allowed inside the store, that means plenty of lines outside … long lines. We have heard some people start lining up at 6 a.m. or earlier to try to snag the precious TP commodity! Everyone remained very calm, and the Costco crew moved the line along efficiently. Photo by Therese Iknoian.

FINDING HUMOR

Camels silhouettes at sunset in the Sahara

Guest room happy hour at HITravelTales HQ, April 3, 2020. Therese and Michael enjoy an evening happy hour with a few friends in the guest bedroom for a change of scenery during the mandatory stay-at-home order in California. Stuffed animal guest invites and makeup as well as photo-styling and wardrobe by Therese Iknoian. Photo composed and taken by Michael Hodgson (camera remote very carefully hidden). Drunk penguin in the front row is Pingo. He started drinking before the shoot began, silly penguin. Read more and see additional funny photos in our story, An entertaining stay-at-home travel itinerary in the age of coronavirus.

Camels silhouettes at sunset in the Sahara

Long exposure playtime at home, Brooklyn, New York, March 30, 2020. Quarantined in his small New York apartment after returning from Europe mid-March, Gabe Biderman, co-founder of National Parks at Night photography education, was going nuts so he decided to experiment with some long exposures, indoors, in the confines of his small Brooklyn apartment. A little creativity can go a long way to abate boredom! Read his blog about his experience, his need to find indoor creativity to stoke his photography juices, and how he actually created this photo.

Camels silhouettes at sunset in the Sahara

Airplane between Minneapolis and Phoenix, Jan. 27, 2020. Early in the crisis — long before masks became standard, Stacy self-consciously wore a mask on her Minneapolis-to -hoenix flight and on her final puddle jump into Flagstaff, Ariz., for protection from the coronavirus. As it turned out, she says she felt ill by the time the plane landed in Flagstaff. Seems she was likely contagious when she donned the mask, so in the end the mask protected others from HER germs rather than the other way around. Fortunately, it was only a 48-hour stomach flu. Photo by Stacey Wittig of Unstoppable Stacey Travel.

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Acknowledgements: Introduction by Michael Hodgson & The more...