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These Traffic Maps Show How The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Emptied Streets Across The Globe

In some of the most congested cities in the US and across the world, roads are almost empty.

Last updated on April 11, 2020, at 1:55 p.m. ET

Posted on March 20, 2020, at 1:49 p.m. ET

As nations across the world try to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, many cities, regions, and even entire countries have been placed under severe restrictions, keeping people who would normally be on the roads in their homes.

To show how this has affected cities throughout the world, BuzzFeed News has teamed up with Mapbox, a mapping and location data company, which provided information on traffic volumes before and after the COVID-19 crisis escalated. In each case, the “After” view shows traffic patterns Monday March 30, local time. The “Before” view shows Monday January 13, before the coronavirus had spread across the globe.

Brighter greens and yellows indicate the presence of more vehicles on the roads. As the streets and highways empty, cities go dark.

San Francisco

Peter Aldhous/BuzzFeed News, Lo Bénichou/Mapbox, Mapbox Telemetry Team


See an interactive map of San Francisco traffic.

The Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara issued a shelter-in-place order, which went into effect 12:01 a.m. on March 17. Residents were told to leave their homes for “only the most essential needs.” On March 18, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered people across the entire state to stay home unless absolutely necessary.

Los Angeles

Peter Aldhous/BuzzFeed News, Lo Bénichou/Mapbox, Mapbox Telemetry Team

See an interactive map of Los Angeles traffic.

Just an hour before Newsom’s announcement, city officials in Los Angeles issued a similar order. Even before then, fewer Angelenos were taking to the city’s freeways than normal.

New York City

Peter Aldhous/BuzzFeed News, Lo Bénichou/Mapbox, Mapbox Telemetry Team

See an interactive map of New York City traffic.

New York currently has more confirmed cases than any other US state. Public schools in New York City are closed, as well as restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, and cultural institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library. On Mar. 20, governor Andew Cuomo ordered all non-essential workers across the entire state to stay home.

Rome

Peter Aldhous/BuzzFeed News, Lo Bénichou/Mapbox, Mapbox Telemetry Team

See an interactive map of Rome traffic.

On March 7, facing an escalating epidemic, Italy issued a lockdown order covering 16 million people in the north of the country, including Milan. On March 10, travel across the entire nation was restricted to reasons of work, health, and emergencies.

Paris

Peter Aldhous/BuzzFeed News, Lo Bénichou/Mapbox, Mapbox Telemetry Team

See an interactive map of Paris traffic.

“We are in a health war,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised address on March 16. If people intend to leave their home, they must now fill out a form explaining why.

London

Peter Aldhous/BuzzFeed News, Lo Bénichou/Mapbox, Mapbox Telemetry Team

See an interactive map of London traffic.

The British government initially advised people who might be infected to self-quarantine but avoided wider restrictions on activities and travel. But it changed tack on March 16 after an expert report suggested this would lead to the health system being overwhelmed. Now people are being advised to avoid “non-essential contact,” and schools are being closed from March 20 until further notice.

Beijing

Peter Aldhous/BuzzFeed News, Lo Bénichou/Mapbox, Mapbox Telemetry Team

See an interactive map of Beijing traffic.

The coronavirus now spreading across the globe was first identified late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan. By late January, it and other badly affected cities were quarantined. Economic activity across the entire nation slowed, visible to orbiting satellites through a drop in air pollution.

Seoul

Peter Aldhous/BuzzFeed News, Lo Bénichou/Mapbox, Mapbox Telemetry Team

See an interactive map of Seoul traffic.

After China, South Korea was the second country to see an explosive rise in cases. Unlike other nations, it has managed to bring its epidemic under control, launching a massive testing campaign and aggressively tracking the contacts of people who tested positive.

Because this early intervention allowed it to get the spread of the virus under control, South Korea has not had to shut down entire cities. “South Korea is a democratic republic, we feel a lockdown is not a reasonable choice,” Kim Woo-Joo, an infectious disease specialist at Korea University, told Science. Still, normal levels of traffic have not yet returned to the streets of its capital city.

The Telemetry Team at Mapbox provided additional data and map support.

UPDATE

The text has been altered to reflect the fact that these maps are no longer being updated every day.


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