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Scenes from an emergency

In a week, we have suddenly gone from
business as usual to a strange and cold new world
Photo essay by Maya Abdallah

FOR THE immediate future at least, officials are advising people returning from abroad, or who have been exposed to coronavirus here, to self-isolate for 14 days.

The rest of us have been instructed to avoid spreading, or contracting, the virus. We are told to wash our hands often, avoid touching our faces and practise social distancing.

Schools, colleges and universities have closed or transitioned to online learning. Pubs and restaurants are closing, except for home delivery. Stores are limiting the customers they allow in. People are wearing masks when they are out and about.

We have been told to stand no closer to one another than two metres, or two arms’ lengths.

In short, we’re living through a scenario that, until a week ago, was something out of a bad science fiction movie.

The Magpie‘s Maya Abdallah went out this week with her camera to map this strange new terrain, and what she found is a city in the first stages of an epidemic that is growing in leaps every day.


From corner supermarkets
to big boxes, just about any
that sells groceries has seen a
run on everything from toilet
paper to rice and pasta, to
frozen foods and canned goods.
And the lines are longer because
of the space customers
are leaving between one another.




An employee wipes down
the counters at Costco.
Perhaps one of the biggest
adjustments  Canadians have had to make is the transition to a state of mind in which we see any surface as being potentially deadly. 







Despite pleas from the news media and officials at all levels of government,  hoarders continued to clear off shelves, sometimes leaving nothing for their neighbours.








The week began with
Tom Ruth, CEO and president
of Edmonton International Airport,
announcing the closure of EIA
to international flights.








Things were unnaturally quiet at
the West Edmonton Mall midweek,
and many of the shoppers wore
surgical masks to ward off exposure
to COVID-19.








Food courts, pubs and
restaurants have been
shut down. Often, as with
this sushi bar, home delivery was still available.









One of the first casualties
of  the outbreak was the city’s system
of recreation centres, which was shut
down  at 6 p.m.
March 14.








Even the normally hectic Apple
stores were shuttered and empty,
save for a few bored looking
Genius Bar employees.







The Edmonton Transit System went to Saturday service, which led to some packed buses, and an increase in rush-hour service. Later in the week, ETS announced all buses, DATS and LRT service would be free. Often, though, weird, ghostly, semi-deserted buses cruised the streets.



Normally bustling with students, staff and faculty, MacEwan University’s Allard Hall was almost deserted.

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