Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Boston springs slowly back to life

A person passes the “Cheers” bar, closed amid Covid-19. May 23, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

Like New York,  Boston is a shell of what it once was pre-coronavirus. The city is quiet, businesses are shut down and people gather in parks rather than restaurants, social distancing as best they can. Unlike New York, the stranglehold the coronavirus had on the city is noticeably loosening its grip.

 In major cities in the northeast  and all over the world, there is an incredible amount of quarantine fatigue. Citizens of cities where there is no end in sight to their shut down are experiencing the mental and physical exhaustion that comes with prolonged shelter in place orders, and Boston is no different.

 People are chomping at the bit to enjoy the spring weather in New England, and many have been. Bostonians are still respecting the restrictions that helped keep Covid-19 numbers relatively low for a major city, but there is a sense of calm there that, for someone coming from New York, was alarming.

 I could not gauge if the calm I felt was a good or bad thing, or if it was just a product of being in a different environment. One where an ever-soaring local death toll isn’t being blasted on major news networks around the clock, and where people aren’t afraid to walk down the same crammed streets so as not to come within six feet of one another.

 It was jarring, and the anxiety I felt is sadly a clear indicator of the toll this pandemic has taken on my psyche and what I see as new social norms—I.e., stay six feet away and wear a mask. 

 On the one hand, I am glad life is going to back to some kind of normal for Boston. On the other hand, with the fear of a second wave looming, I am worried Boston is letting its guard down to soon. 

I felt a strong false sense of security seeing some people in groups out and about, quick to pull down their masks when talking or leaving stores, some walking the streets not wearing masks at all with no show of concern. The number of people obeying restrictive measures outweighed those who weren’t but, still, coming from the epicenter, I deemed my anxiety warranted.

 This is Boston during Covid-19.

A person pulls down their mask to speak in front of the Boston Common “Make Way for Ducklings” statue. May 23, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

A healthcare worker passes the Bostonian, a hotel now offering special rooms to frontline workers to disinfect before returning home to loved ones. May 22, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

A person walks through Boston Common, May 23, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

People walk through a near empty North Street, May 22, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

Boston’s North End, May 22, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

A person jogs by the George Washington statue in Boston Common, May 23, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

A family sits by the pond in Boston Common, May 23, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

A statue of Red Auerbach, legendary Boston Celtic coach, in Quincy Market decorated with a healthcare work scrubs top. May 22, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

“Thank You Heroes!” in the windows of Blue Cross Blue Shield, May 22, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge





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