Images Depict Empty Cities Around the World Under Lockdown

It’s hard to believe, but the COVID-19 pandemic has now brought the biggest metropolitan hubs in the world, as well as entire countries themselves, to a near-complete standstill. To give you a sense of just how profound this transformation has been, here is a roundup of footage of once bustling, lively locales turned into scenes straight out of a post-apocalyptic movie.

Images of Empty Cities Under Lockdown from Around the World_1

Fox Searchlight Pictures 


Italy, which has been hit hardest by COVID-19, has been on lockdown since March 9, when the country’s prime minister ordered people across the peninsula to “avoid all movement….” Below is drone footage from desolate motorways in Milan, which was made available by The Guardian. Note that Milan is in Italy’s Lombardy region, which has taken the brunt of the deaths inflicted by the pandemic.

The U.S.

Although a national lockdown has not been declared in the U.S., governors and mayors across the country have instituted temporary lockdowns to encourage physical distancing (note the WHO prefers that phrase over “social distancing”) as well as mass quarantine. Here are snapshots from a small handful of cities from around the country:

New York City 

As of March 24, New York City is reporting 13,119 COVID-19 cases, 4,000 more than the entire country of South Korea. New York state, which is currently under lockdown thanks to an order by Governor Andrew Cuomo, has been the hardest-hit state, with 25,665 cases as of this writing; that equates to more than half of all U.S. cases combined. Below is footage of an empty NYC taken by DroneFanatic.


Even though there are far fewer COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts than in New York, the state’s governor has still issued a “stay at home advisory” for its residents. In Boston, even prior to the governor’s advisory, the streets and sidewalks were deserted, as evidenced by this drone footage made available by The Boston Globe.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles, a city with a population of 4 million residents, has, like the rest of California, been under effective lockdown since March 19, when Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the state’s 40 million residents to stay at home unless traveling for essential purposes. Below is drone footage of the empty city made available by The Washington Post.

New Orleans

New Orleans, which is being noted as the next possible “hot spot” for COVID-19 infections as its reported rate of transmission is apparently much higher than that of other U.S. cities, is now effectively under lockdown. A statewide stay at home order was also issued for Louisiana by Governor John Bel Edwards. Below is drone footage of a relatively lifeless New Orleans, which was posted to Twitter by user, Alejandro de Los Rios.

The U.K.

The U.K., which has just been issued a national stay at home order by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, currently has over 8,000 cases, and is in the top ten nations in terms of number of deaths from COVID-19 with 422 as of this writing. Below is a glimpse of London on March 24, made available by Sky News.

And here is one other, particularly jaw-dropping, scene of countless airplanes grounded at Heathrow Airport in London (via VOA News).


Canada, according to the Toronto Sun, is heading “ever closer to full lockdown” due to COVID-19 as of March 23. Although a strict stay at home order has not been issued by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the country’s provinces have issued orders to their citizens barring gatherings of, in some cases, two or more people, and have ordered non-essential businesses to close. Below is footage of various emptied cities from across the country, posted to YouTube by Global News.


Spain, which is more than a week into its strict COVID-19 lockdown—that even allows the government to intervene in private corporations’ affairs to guarantee necessary supplies—is closing in on nearly 2,700 deaths from the disease. An ice rink in Madrid, Palacio de Hielo, or “Ice Palace,” has even been turned into a morgue. Below is drone footage of Madrid taken by the country’s National Police, and posted to YouTube by Ruptly on March 16.


France, now the fifth country to cross 1,000 COVID-19-related deaths, has, as of this writing, over 22,000 cases across the country. France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, put a nationwide lockdown into place on March 17, and it is expected to last, in total, for at least six weeks. Below is drone footage of an emptied Paris, posted to YouTube by Guardian News on March 19.


In a surreal turn of events, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, ordered a complete lockdown for the country’s entire population of 1.3 billion people for a minimum of 21 days. Below is drone footage of Mumbai, a city with a population of almost 18.5 million people, during the temporarily enacted “Janata Curfew,” which calls for people to stay out of public spaces from 7AM to 9PM. This footage was taken prior to the countrywide lockdown.


China is, thankfully, recovering quite well from its battle with COVID-19, and Wuhan, ground zero for the outbreak, is reportedly returning to normal, albeit at a very slow pace. Although aerial or otherwise all-encompassing videos of Wuhan taken from this week are relatively scarce, there are lots of videos showing how desolate the port city of 11 million people was during the height of its epidemic. Below is a short film showing some of the most haunting images from that time.


And finally, from out of South America, we see a mostly deserted Buenos Aires in Argentina. Argentina will be under national lockdown until March 31, and, as of March 24, has reported a relatively small number of cases. Below is drone footage of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital and largest city, during the day, and then again at night. In the nighttime clip of the quarantined city, people chant and clap from their homes to show support for medical professionals on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19.

What do you think about these eerie images of desolate cities from around the world? Does any one of these ghost towns stick out as particularly haunting or do they all frighten you equally? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Feature image: The Boston Globe 

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