People are still dying, and hospital beds are overwhelmed by those suffering from coronavirus. As of early April, half of the world’s population now either lives under some degree of social distancing guidelines and is hopefully shut in responsibly or—worse—working at significant risk in essential jobs. In the United States, layoffs and furloughs are now a daily news item as entire industry sectors reel from the crisis. And we still don’t have enough of the masks or ventilators we need. The COVID-19 pandemic has put everything else on hold.
Amid all this the planet’s public spaces have emptied. Non-essential travel is all but halted, and so humanity’s tourist destinations, agoras, parks, museums, landmarks and other shared meeting points sit unbothered for the most part.
As of now, there is no quick fix to this virus. No vaccine is coming in the near future. All we can do is wait and remember the places waiting for us outside of our homes. We’ll return to them when we can.
The Eiffel Tower (above)
Left: French rock singer Johnny Hallyday, sometimes known as “the French Elvis,” performs on Bastille Day, July 14, 2009, at the Champ de Mars—a massive public greenspace between the Eiffel Tower and the École Militaire in Paris. (Photo: Philipp Guelland/AFP via Getty Images)
Right: A view from the nearby deserted Esplanade du Trocadéro on March 28, patrolled by a policeman near the tower. It was the twelfth day of a lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 in France. (Photo: Stephane de Sakutin/AFP via Getty Images)
Times Square (below)
Top: New York City’s Times Square, in Manhattan, as captured on September 9, 2019. Approximately 460,000 people, many of them tourists from around the world, will walk through Times Square on a busy day. (Photo: Alexandra Schuler/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Bottom: The view of Times Square on March 29, a rainy day. New York State and particularly its metropolitan area is the nation’s hardest hit population, with coronavirus cases topping 100,000 as of April 3. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The Louvre Museum
Top: I.M. Pei’s Pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum on August 1, 2003. The pyramid is made of 603 rhombus-shaped and 70 triangular glass segments and Parisians and is a familiar site for Parisians and visitors to the Louvre, who mill around it every day. (Photo by Michel Setboun/Corbis via Getty Images)
Bottom: A view of the museum on March 31. Health authorities say the new coronavirus killed an additional 499 people in France that day as it continued to take a devastating toll on the country. France’s death toll to the coronavirus as of Thursday, April 2, had surged to 5,387 according to Reuters. (Photo by Julien Mattia/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Grand Central Terminal
Top: The rush-hour commute on November 18, 2015. Grand Central connects several different commuter rail and subway lines that weave through Manhattan and connect it not just to the outer boroughs but to Upstate New York, New England and beyond. (Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Bottom: The view inside Grand Central on March 31. This week, President Trump extended social distancing guidelines for Americans to April 30. Many New Yorkers still ride subways and other public transit, their primary method of transportation in a dense city of 8.6 million. According to some projections, American deaths will peak in late-April. (Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images)
The Great Wall
Top: In China, the national “Golden Week” holidays drive millions of visitors to tourist destinations like this section of the Great Wall outside Beijing, leading to crowds like this one on October 3, 2012. (Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Bottom: A Chinese boy walks a nearly empty section of the Great Wall on March 27, near Badaling in Beijing, China. A limited section of the tourist site was recently re-opened at the end of March. China recently recorded its first day with no new domestic cases of the coronavirus last week, though new cases later sprang up again. (Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Sections of the Great Wall of China.
The Brooklyn Bridge
Top: Photo-hungry tourists on the Brooklyn Bridge are used to hearing shouts of “Get out of the bike lane!” and “Move!” as they clog the narrow pedestrian path and spill across the white divider. This image was taken October 12, 2018. (Photo: Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Bottom: The Brooklyn Bridge, like other New York public spaces, sits empty in the fog on March 30, 2020. (Photo: Joel Sheakoski/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
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