London in lockdown
Earlier this week the prime minister announced strict new measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus in the UK. People may only leave home to exercise once a day, travel to and from work when it is "absolutely necessary", shop for essential items and fulfil any medical or care needs. Shops selling non-essential goods have been closed and gatherings in public of more than two people who do not live together are prohibited.
As we're currently still allowed to leave the house once a day in order to exercise, I was thinking about places I could go for a walk where I would not only encounter as few people as possible (I’m trying to be careful and responsible when I go outside at all) but could also take a few photos of London’s eerily deserted streets. One of my housemates and I decided to leave early in the morning when we thought there would be (even) less people around. Exercising caution and social distancing when we did (infrequently) encounter other people, we walked over Tower Bridge, passed London Bridge and Millennium Bridge, along Southbank and over Westminster Bridge and to Trafalgar Square (this walk takes about an hour). The most striking thing, lack of people aside, was the silence. At times the only noise I could hear was traffic – mainly red double decker buses with little to no passengers onboard, quietly gliding through the streets like giant, blood-red wraiths. It was difficult not to think of films such as 28 Days Later, The Quiet Earth, I Am Legend etc, and literary works like Mary Shelley's The Last Man (widely considered to be the first work of modern apocalyptic fiction), John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids, MP Shiel’s The Purple Cloud, and Ursula K. Le Guin's Always Coming Home.
|Millennium Bridge (with St Paul's Cathedral in background)|
|London Eye on Southbank|
|View of Trafalgar Square from National Gallery|
While I was very careful, it's still risky to go outside, so take care if you do. That said, when you’re cooped up in a room in a shared house, taking a walk provides much needed relief (and fresh air and exercise). Interestingly, while walking this particular route, I actually encountered far less people than I would have by going for a walk around my immediate local area. Strange and worrying times. Take care. Be kind. And if you do head outside, be cautious and considerate and keep your distance from others. x