Striking photos show ghost towns and cities returning to new normal

The coronavirus pandemic is often called the invisible killer but its visual impact on towns and cities is obvious.

Just as the COVID-19 lockdown turned many busy locations into near empty streets, some are now seeing an opposite transformation.

Bournemouth beach stood almost empty on 5 April, two weeks after the UK – one of the world’s worst hit countries – enforced a nationwide lockdown.

The same shoreline was packed with sunseekers on 26 May as the British public took advantage of the eased coronavirus restrictions, which let people spend time outdoors with at least one person outside their household.

General view of the crowded Bournemouth beach, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Bournemouth, Britain, May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra
Image: Bournemouth beach on 5 April…

General view of the crowded Bournemouth beach, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Bournemouth, Britain, May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra
Image: …and on 26 May

Italy is also among the worst affected countries, with least 33,000 deaths.

The photos below were captured in Turin’s Piazza Vittorio Veneto on 10 March, a day after the country’s lockdown was imposed, and on 23 May when restaurants, bars, cafes and hairdressers were able to reopen – albeit with social distancing measures.

TURIN, ITALY - MARCH 10: during of the Italy Clamps Down On Public Events And Travel To Halt Spread Of Coronavirus on March 10, 2020 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images)
Image: Turin’s Piazza Vittorio Veneto on 10 March…

TURIN, ITALY - MARCH 23: during of the Italy Clamps Down On Public Events And Travel To Halt Spread Of Coronavirus on March 23, 2020 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images)
Image: … and on 23 May

In Greece, churches were forced to cease live services after the country locked down on 22 March. Empty seats were snapped in Athens during the procession of Jesus Christ’s Deposition from the Cross on 17 April.

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One month later, Orthodox churchgoers returned to the city’s holy sites to attend the first services after measures were eased.

Empty seats are seen in a church during the procession of Jesus Christ's Deposition from the Cross that takes place behind closed doors, as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Athens, Greece, April 17, 2020. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Image: A church in Athens on 17 April…

Orthodox faithful respect social distancing as they attend the first service open for believers following the easing of measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Athens, Greece, May 17, 2020. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
Image: … and on 17 May

Vietnam has recorded no deaths from coronavirus and just 327 cases, despite being considerably poorer than many other Asian countries and sharing a border with China, where the virus originated.

Below, a usually-crowded road with no traffic can be seen, with a three-wheel cycle driver encapsulating an eerily quiet Hanoi during lockdown on 17 March.

Fast forward to rush hour on 25 May and traffic jams were in full force, after the lockdown was relaxed.

A three-wheel cycle driver waits for customers at an empty square by Hoan Kiem lake in the center of Hanoi, Vietnam March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Kham
Image: A square in Hanoi, Vietnam on 17 March…

Traffic jam is seen in morning rush hour after the government eased nationwide lockdown following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hanoi, Vietnam May 25, 2020. REUTERS/Kham
Image: … and on 25 May

Ratchada Railway Night Market in Bangkok was stripped of its bustling activity, along with the rest of the huge city, when the country was locked down in late March.

The first photo below of the venue was taken on 1 April, and the second on 15 May when the markets returned.

Thailand has also had a relatively low number of coronavirus cases (3,065) and deaths (57). It is gradually easing its restrictions as daily new infections fell to single digits in early May.

A view of empty Ratchada Railway Night Market which usually is crowded with tourists is pictured following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Bangkok, Thailand, April 1, 2020. Picture taken April 1, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo
Image: Bangkok’s Ratchada Railway Night Market on 1 April…

A view of the Ratchada Railway Night Market which is reopnening amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak after the Thai government eased isolation measures, in Bangkok, Thailand, May 15, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
Image: … and on 15 May

The first photograph below shows an empty classroom in a secondary school in Bonn, Germany, on 13 March as authorities were debating if schools should close.

Teachers are then pictured giving lessons at the same school after it reopened on 23 April, with social distancing measures in place. Germany has loosened restrictions, but people are still told to wear masks and avoid groups.

Cleaning tools are leaning at the board of an empty classroom in the Freiherr-vom-Stein secondary school in Bonn, amid authorities' discussions whether schools should be closed nationwide due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Bonn, Germany March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
Image: A school in Bonn, Germany on 13 March…

Teachers Claudia Mohme and Nicola Witzlau give lessons at the Freiherr-vom-Stein school after its re-opening, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Bonn, Germany, April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
Image: … and the same school on 23 April

A lone man was photographed on 8 May cycling along a boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland in the US – the worst affected country with more than 100,000 deaths – just one day before restrictions were relaxed there.

A very different atmosphere was captured at the same boardwalk on 23 May, during Memorial Day weekend.

A man cycles along the boardwalk, a day before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions are relaxed in Ocean City, Maryland, U.S., May 8, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Image: A boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland on 8 May…

With the relaxing of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions, visitors crowd the boardwalk on Memorial Day weekend in Ocean City, Maryland, U.S., May 23, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Image: … and on 23 May

Below is another pair of photos from Italy, taken in Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The first one was snapped on 8 March, after the government locked down the north of the country, and the second on 18 May.

People walk in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, after the Italian government imposed a virtual lockdown on the north of the country, in Milan, Italy March 8, 2020. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
Image: Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II on 8 March…

FILE PHOTO: People walk at at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, as Italy eases some of the lockdown measures put in place during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Milan, Italy May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo/File Photo
Image: … and on 18 May

Next week from Monday to Thursday, Dermot Murnaghan will be hosting After the Pandemic: Our New World – a series of special live programmes about what our world will be like once the pandemic is over.

We’ll be joined by some of the biggest names from the worlds of culture, politics, economics, science and technology. And you can take part too.

If you’d like to be in our virtual audience – from your own home – and put questions to the experts, email afterthepandemic@sky.uk

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