China’s capital city, Beijing, is known for being a sprawling metropolis, with its streets packed of people. This wasn’t the case when the coronavirus outbreak hit the country, going on to spread around the world.
Blair Boudreau, a flight attendant for an international airline, was in the city on Jan. 30. Before leaving, he took a two-hour walk and captured images of the empty streets, retail spaces and hotels in Beijing.
“I know that I’m never going to have this opportunity again, probably in my lifetime, to walk around empty streets in Beijing because literally 24 hours a day, it’s completely buzzing...like a beehive,” Boudreau told Yahoo Canada. “It felt very post-apocalyptic.”
The flight attendant described the silence throughout the city as “deafening.”
“Normally when I’m in Asia, I got back to the hotel and I have to try to clear my mind because it’s sensory overload everywhere with the sights, the sounds, the smells,” he said. “This was silent and odourless.”
“If you know Beijing, it’s just mind-blowing to think that it could be completely empty.”
Boudreau said he only saw a couple shops open and Burger King, which was only accepting payments through an app.
“There was no physical contact between people at all, everybody was in masks and gloves,” he said. “Every single building had temperature monitoring people, so in order to get into any building you had to submit to a temperature test and use hand sanitizer.”
Boudreau said that one of the “strangest” moments from his walk was seeing one woman on a bike in a red jacket, on the otherwise empty streets.
“I’m literally in the middle of the empty streets and this faceless girl on a...bike...comes down the street and stops at the traffic light when there’s no traffic coming in any direction,” he said. “It had that feeling of...like a zombie apocalypse, it was just something really terribly creepy about it.”