Pubs closed, streets quiet, station deserted – York adjusts to the new reality

York looking beautiful but empty today (Saturday, 21 March). Photographs: Richard McDougall

It was sunny Saturday on what was the second day of spring, but York was less busy than a sleety Tuesday in early January.

The city was unnaturally quiet – but this is the new natural.

With all bars, restaurants and cafés shut to staying customers, many shops closed or closing too, and constant messages about social distancing, there were few shoppers on the streets.

With City Cruises suspending all sailings until 30 April, even the river was empty of traffic.

York Station was quieter even than the city centre. From Monday (23 March) a reduced timetable will be brought in to reflect the fall in passenger numbers.

Across the city there are notices in shop and café windows about measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

City of York Council leader Keith Aspden said: “The disruption to our daily lives cannot be underestimated, with many people now isolated from their friends or concerned that their livelihoods are at threat. 

“People are working long hours to respond to the outbreak or care for the sick. 

“Yet every day, I am encouraged by residents freely giving their time to support people they’ve never met, or businesses offering hotel rooms for key workers or food for older people, who can no longer get out.”

Here are some photos from Saturday showing the new normal.