Street photography in the time of Covid-19

Author: Emin Mathers

Edition: Isolation

Azerbaijan has been under virtual lockdown since March 24, when the government strictly limited public movement in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

For weeks, the residents of capital Baku have been largely stuck at home. They are allowed to leave for essential trips--like going to the grocery store or the pharmacy--but need permission first.

As a result, the streets of central Baku, which normally buzz with activity, have fallen silent. Photographer Emin Mathers used his regular walks to the grocery store to document how his fellow Bakuvians dress during their precious moments outdoors during the time of Covid-19.  

The now empty streets of Baku, the view from the balcony.
It is rare to see people walking together these days.
A taxi driver, waiting for customers, in facemask and gloves--the recommended safety gear.
The first wave of strict restrictions against public movement fell on a Sunday, which is market day for Azerbaijanis. In Baku, people were not in a hurry to go out, so for probably the first time, I observed bored traders at the market on a Sunday.
Most large and medium markets started services home delivery and sellers also work as delivery men.
Early morning disinfection of building entrances in the city center.
Firefighter truck and armored cars with water cannons were used to disinfect the streets as well.
A bored construction material dealer complained about the lack of business.
Street fast food sellers erected barriers in front of their windows to keep their products safe. They are staying in business by offering takeaway and delivery services.
Take away coffee has become the only service for cafes and coffee shops.
The silence of Icheri Sheher (Old city) streets, normally crowded with tourists at this time of year, is broken only by the rare outings of its residents who sometimes venture out in their yards. Even watering plants is an event these days.
In some case «Icherisheherli» (as old city habitants call themselves) are pleased, but all whom I met complained about the lack of tourists. The owner of a small shop even shut down as office workers and tourists were his only clients. “We have nothing to do. Before we earned something from tourists by taking them to local landmarks as local guides,” notes Yusif.
The deserted streets make it easier to work on street renovation projects.
The worker of 1st Public Clinic, named after A.H. Kazimov. The sign on the door reads: "Patients with a high fever are forbidden to visit the clinic!!! Patients with a high fever should call a doctor at home using the provided number."
Closed for quarantine. A souvenir shop fitted a statue of hero Meshedi Ibad in a mask in honor of the virus.
We are a non-profit media organization covering the topics and groups of people that are frequently ignored by mainstream media. Our work would not be possible without support from our community and readers like you. Your donations enable us to support journalists who cover underrepresented stories across the region.