Toronto, photos, coronavirus
Toronto City Hall at 5pm on a Friday. All photos by Graham Isador

Photos of Toronto's Empty New Normal

The coronavirus pandemic has transformed a bustling city.
April 6, 2020, 5:48pm

As a person who lives alone and is working from home, walks have been a welcome respite from the cramped space of my apartment during the coronavirus pandemic. Save for the weekly trip to my local grocery store—which is now watched over by a security guard, who asks patrons whether they’ve been outside of the province before allowing a predetermined number of patrons inside—it’s the only chance I’ve had to see other humans. In the scheme of things it’s a small sacrifice to make as Covid-19 infections continue to rise in Ontario. Massive layoffs have impacted tons of workers as non-essential businesses shut down, and 240,000 Canadians applying for government assistance with the CERB.


Still, the walks are nice…if a bit eerie. Because fines are being implemented for people still playing in parks or not adhering to the proper social distancing, they’re one of the few things we’re seemingly allowed to do right now. I say seemingly as while public health officials have repeatedly said people showing no symptoms or under quarantine can go outside for a walk, we also get emergency alerts sent to our phones that make it sound like we are entirely under quarantine.

On my walks people have tried their best to give each other the proper six-feet distance on our narrow sidewalks.. Behind masks we give each other a smile, if not a friendly nod, trying to convey some small pleasantries in the midst of all this chaos. The mixture of friendliness coupled with a general fear of the virus gives everything a cinematic feel, like a particularly boring adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel. That feeling is doubled down on by the fact that many familiar sites in Toronto have been left empty. Over the weekend I took my camera with me on my stroll trying to capture this weird moment.


The now common sight of a closed playground.


An empty storefront in Kensington Market.


“You’re taking pictures, take picture of the lonely Rasta,” said this man before I snapped his photo in Chinatown.


An empty Kensington Market.


“If you’re not going to photograph the most interesting man on an empty street, you are a terrible photographer,” said the man. Photographed in Chinatown.


Social distancing for the liquor store.


A man walking with groceries at Yonge and Dundas Square.


A lineup for a weed store, just before they were closed by the government.

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