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Those who venture out into the open keep their distance. – Picture by Author

Cherry blossoms and empty streets: A stroll across Washington DC under quarantine

Walks in isolation, quiet public spaces and empty streets are the new norm.

Published Mar 30, 2020 10:16am

It's spring time in Washington, DC. A slow-moving line of cars passes down streets lined with blooming cherry blossoms. Young children peer out the windows, gawking at the pink skyline as their parents keep a watchful eye on them.

The Covid-19 scare ensures few risk leaving their cars. Those who do step out for a better photo keep a safe distance from the others around them. For the rest, the National Park Service’s “BloomCam” ─ a live feed of cherry blossoms across the city ─ is the safest way to experience this season.

Walks in isolation, quiet public spaces and empty streets are the new norm in a city that would have otherwise been gearing up for the magnificent cherry blossom festival.

Tidal Basin, Washington, DC: Most people refuse to leave their cars to experience the cherry blossoms in bloom. - Picture by Author
Tidal Basin, Washington, DC: Most people refuse to leave their cars to experience the cherry blossoms in bloom. - Picture by Author

The parks aren’t entirely empty though. Self-imposed quarantines are sometimes broken for strolls through the parks, albeit in much smaller groups maintaining much larger distances. In a city which is known for its active demographic it seems to be impossible for everyone to stay cooped up inside their homes. Fitness enthusiasts and casual joggers are a fairly frequent sight as people working from home find more time on their hands and few to no open gyms.

Joggers taking advantage of smaller crowds. - Picture by Author
Joggers taking advantage of smaller crowds. - Picture by Author

Downtown is where the true extent of isolation is on display.

A town that would have otherwise been buzzing with Spring Meetings furor is reduced to long stretches of clear roads and empty walkways. As IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank Group President David Malpass had shared in an earlier statement ─ the star-studded event would be held virtually this year.

An ambulance occupies a barren street in downtown DC. - Picture by Author
An ambulance occupies a barren street in downtown DC. - Picture by Author

University campuses across the metropolis are for the most part sealed shut.

Students have been vacated from their housing premises and all classes are now online. The end of spring break would have brought tanned faces back to classes from their short mid-semester break, but for now universities and schools remain uninhabited.

Police vehicle occupy empty campuses across the District as self-imposed quarantines have taken over. In image, a deserted Georgetown University campus, Monday, March 23, 2020. – Picture by Askari Hasan
Police vehicle occupy empty campuses across the District as self-imposed quarantines have taken over. In image, a deserted Georgetown University campus, Monday, March 23, 2020. – Picture by Askari Hasan

Foggy Bottom, Washington, DC: A deserted George Washington University campus. ─ Picture by Askari Hasan
Foggy Bottom, Washington, DC: A deserted George Washington University campus. ─ Picture by Askari Hasan

Georgetown University's main campus. - Picture by Askari Hasan
Georgetown University's main campus. - Picture by Askari Hasan

Restaurants are empty for the most part as dining in at establishments has been barred. A few places have, however, chosen to stay open to offer take-away and deliveries.

Some local business chose to stay open despite limiting their activites. In image, the Georgetown Shopping district. - Pic by Askari Hasan
Some local business chose to stay open despite limiting their activites. In image, the Georgetown Shopping district. - Pic by Askari Hasan

By the Potomac river, a few souls occupy the benches with their food, maintaining a safe distance from strangers. A single cough can cause heads to turn.

Sightseers cautiously relaxing by the Georgetown Waterfront. With indoor dining off the cards, some citizens who dare to venture outside choose to enjoy their meals in the outdoors. – Picture by Author
Sightseers cautiously relaxing by the Georgetown Waterfront. With indoor dining off the cards, some citizens who dare to venture outside choose to enjoy their meals in the outdoors. – Picture by Author

The Dupont Circle area in downtown DC, home to lively dining and nightlife. - Picture by Askari Hasan
The Dupont Circle area in downtown DC, home to lively dining and nightlife. - Picture by Askari Hasan

The economic slowdown has also started to take its toll on the less privileged. Frantic delivery representatives and ride-sharing service drivers are feeling the pinch and worry about the uncertainty that lies ahead. They carry on with their duties during this perilous time while citizens of the DMV area increasingly question why a government ordered lockdown has yet to take place.

The government's back and forth on the lockdown orders has left the most vulnerable segment in society frantically searching for answers from anyone they can talk to. Unfortunately, no one seems to have a clear answer.