In pictures: Sydney becomes ghost town amid coronavirus downturn

Sydney 2000

Sydney’s CBD has fallen silent as Australia’s increasing social-distancing measures and fears about coronavirus spark a mass exodus in business hubs and tourist hotspots.

With more than 200 cases of COVID-19 in NSW and an exponential increase expected, many workplaces have told staff to stay home to help curb the spread of the virus.

Martin Place, Barangaroo and Circular Quay have become ghost towns punctuated with empty restaurants and deserted shops, and there’s never been more room on the roads or train platforms.


A smattering of people on the escalators to Wynyard Station at around 5.30pm on Tuesday. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)


Empty tables at a restaurant in Campbells Cove in Sydney. (AAP: James Gourley)


The host at this Barangaroo restaurant waits with stacks of menus. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)

And while deserted streets make for a much calmer city to get around, it has left many small business owners anxious about what is to come.

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In the financial hub of Martin Place, peak hour normally means thousands of people striding to and from the train station.

But that stampede was gone this week,


There was no evening rush at Martin Place yesterday. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)


Sydney’s financial district is largely abandoned. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)

Lin Gia runs a news stand in the famous pedestrian mall and normally has a constant flow of corporate types.

“I can’t close as a I need to pay my rent but even if I can pay that, I may have no money left for me,” she said.

“If only I worked in an office where I could still be paid while working from home.”

She said the only thing keeping her business afloat now were lotto ticket sales.


Lin Gia waits for her next customer. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)


This empty street in Barangaroo tells the story. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)


There were no lines for the ferry at Barangaroo. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)

Libby Rose, who works at a fruit stall near Wynyard station, said the business had taken a massive hit.

“We are seeing about a third of the normal foot traffic … I made around $10 between 4pm and 5pm which is normally our busiest time,” she said.

“We may only open three days a week if this keeps up.”


Libby Rose is concerned her shifts could be cut. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)

Ms Rose works on a casual basis and said it was nerve-wracking watching people cart their office supplies home.

With social-distancing measures, travel bans and infections all expected to increase, she doesn’t think the workers will be back any time soon.


A woman sits alone on steps in Campbells Cove in Sydney. (AAP: James Gourley)

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