Diina Tamm, an Estonian expat based in New York City, writes that the city that never sleeps has transformed into the city that’s hibernating, and Broadway, usually one of the most vibrant places in the world, is quite eerie.
New York state is currently the hardest-hit region in the United States. With a huge increase in testing over the last few days, the total number of coronavirus cases as of the morning of 19 March stood at 4,152 cases statewide – 2,469 of them in New York City.
New York City has been my home since 2012. The only time I’ve seen the local bustle slowing down for a few days was after hurricane Sandy. Now, it has basically transformed from the city that never sleeps to the city that’s hibernating.
Earlier this week, mayor Bill de Blasio suggested a possible “shelter-in-place” order for New Yorkers but the idea has so far been rejected by the governor, Andrew Cuomo.
All New York City recreation centres, bars and cafes are closed, the restaurants that do still operate are restricted to delivery or takeout only. The schools are closed at least through Monday, 20 April, and students will be engaging in remote learning platforms starting 23 March.
Two-three travellers taking photos of Times Square
One of the most iconic symbols of NYC – Broadway – has gone dark due to public health concerns. The shutdown is currently in effect until 12 April. Walking through the area that is usually one of the most vibrant places in the world can be quite eerie.
It is said that the approximate amount of people passing Times Square daily is about 350,000. Right now, the plaza remains pretty empty with some casual employees crossing and maybe two or three travellers taking quick photos.
However, the city hasn’t completely lost its unique flow. You can spot a few BMX bikers practicing in hazmat suits and it seems like some people are using parts of their Halloween costumes as masks – it is the artistic melting pot after all.
Read also: Fear of imperfection through the eyes of an Estonian dancer in New York. For the latest developments in Estonia, follow our special blog on coronavirus.
Cover: Broadway near Times Square. Photos by Mario Notton.