The emptiness left by COVID-19 – one year after lockdown in SA

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As the news broke of South Africa’s first COVID-19 case on 5 March 2020, the reality of a pandemic was unfathomable. Little did we know how our lives would change in the months to follow. As the numbers kept increasing, the government had to intervene and make a decision to protect its citizens.

Fast forward to March 23, a national lockdown was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, and the country went into hard lockdown 48 hours later.

Panic hit, people went out to buy what they could afford not knowing what the immediate future held.


COVID-19 didn’t only leave empty shelves, roads and parking lots, it also left a lot of empty spaces, empty desks at work from colleagues who succumbed to the virus and retrenchments,

The empty fields of play due to restrictions brought on by lockdown measures, empty pews at churches, empty fridges at home because of loss of income, empty stomachs from the effects left by the pandemic on our economy.

Empty spaces

All these empty spaces have a negative effect on our well-being, but the biggest emptiness left by COVID-19 is that of our dearly departed who lost their lives to the coronavirus, these empty spaces will remain empty at family gatherings forever.

A lone shopper is seen browsing empty shelves at a local supermarket on 23 March 2020. (Photo by Dinilohlanga Mekuto)

A few days later, the lockdown was implemented and that left roads across the country destitute and empty.

On the N1 between Pretoria and Soweto, there was no vehicle in sight for a few hundreds of meters. (Photo by Dinilohlanga Mekuto)

Malls shutdown, parking lots deserted. (Photo by Dinilohlanga Mekuto)