Walking or driving, the recurrent tune which plays out without prompting is that of “The Sound of Silence”. The formerly bustling street, the morning gridlock, the blaring car horns, all these and more have given way to an almost eerie calm. Not for nothing, song writer Paul Simon’s couplet “In restless dreams I walked alone, Narrow streets of cobblestone” seems to resonate in the daily experience of village cores without costermongers, residential areas fully stocked up with cars in the middle of the day, and the perfume of incense shut out of the silent Churches.
This may be a poetic way of looking at things. In truth, this has had a very pragmatic reason for coming about. These drastic changes have been evolving since the first coronavirus case emerged in Malta. People have begun working remotely, schools have closed and students are now being taught online, events were called off or postponed, masses are now being streamed online, retail shops, gyms, restaurants, bars and other gathering places have shuttered their doors down.
These closures are all attempts to encourage people to stay at home and enforce social distancing, a crucially important public health intervention that can aid to stop transmission of coronavirus.
As time goes by, and the number of cases are increasing, Maltese roads appear to be increasingly empty. We ventured out and this is what we saw.