Beijing as you’ve never seen it before

In a normal year, the city of Beijing springs to life in the closing days of the annual weeklong Lunar New Year holiday as families leave home for shopping, dining and to visit tourist attractions.

But this is not a normal year.

Fears of a virus outbreak have kept many indoors and at home in China's capital.

MORE: Follow updates on the coronavirus outbreak

Cultural landmarks such as the Great Wall and Forbidden City have closed their doors to visitors, nearly deserted shopping malls have reduced their operating hours, and restaurants that remain open draw just a handful of customers. Streets and subway stations are empty.

Here's a look at the streets of Beijing as you've never seen them:

 

A man in a face mask rides an empty subway in Beijing. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein.
A man in a face mask rides an empty subway in Beijing. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein.

 

The Forbidden City, normally crowded with tourists during the Lunar New Year holiday, in Beijing is deserted and marked by guards wearing masks. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein.
The Forbidden City, normally crowded with tourists during the Lunar New Year holiday, in Beijing is deserted and marked by guards wearing masks. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein.

 

An empty shopping mall. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein.
An empty shopping mall. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein.

 

A man rides his bike past normally crowded Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein.
A man rides his bike past normally crowded Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein.

 

Starbucks has announced it will close stores across China to prevent the spread of the disease. However this Beijing branch is already virtually empty. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein.
Starbucks has announced it will close stores across China to prevent the spread of the disease. However this Beijing branch is already virtually empty. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein.

 

A family visit a normally crowded shopping street in China’s capital. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein.
A family visit a normally crowded shopping street in China’s capital. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein.

 

A Chinese man wearing a mask in a busy part of Beijing that is deserted. Picture: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.
A Chinese man wearing a mask in a busy part of Beijing that is deserted. Picture: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.

 

Visitors to the Temple of Heaven faced open spaces – a rare sight during the normally busy New Year. Picture: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.
Visitors to the Temple of Heaven faced open spaces – a rare sight during the normally busy New Year. Picture: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.

 

 

A woman wears a mask at the Temple fo Heaven. Picture: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.
A woman wears a mask at the Temple fo Heaven. Picture: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.

 

 

The government has officially extended Lunar New Year celebrations to give the nation three additional days off. But at a time that is normally one of China's busiest tourist peaks, most seem to be using the unexpected extra vacation to hunker down at home.

 

Tiananmen Gate is normally filled with tourists, but has been empty since Chinese officials restricted travel and tourism earlier this week. Picture: Betsy Joles/Getty Images.
Tiananmen Gate is normally filled with tourists, but has been empty since Chinese officials restricted travel and tourism earlier this week. Picture: Betsy Joles/Getty Images.

 

 

A police officer wearing a mask at Tiananmen Gate. Picture: Betsy Joles/Getty Images.
A police officer wearing a mask at Tiananmen Gate. Picture: Betsy Joles/Getty Images.

Those who do go to work find themselves with plenty of time on their hands. A clerk at an empty clothing store fiddles with her smartphone, always a popular pastime for young Chinese addicted to messaging, movies and games.

At a coffee shop with just one customer, food delivery drivers normally seen tearing through traffic or sprinting through office buildings laden with bags of rice and noodles occupy a table near the door as they shoot the breeze.


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