Baku life in quarantine – photos and stories
Official data has it that by the end of March, more than three hundred people were infected with Covid-19 in Azerbaijan, five of them had died and twenty-six had recovered.
The authorities are taking drastic measures to “quarantine” the country. But it seems that in Baku, many are more afraid of quarantine and its consequences than the coronavirus itself.
Murad was going to celebrate his 16th birthday with classmates: sit in a karaoke cafe, then go for a walk around the city.
But in the end they celebrated online, and for entertainment all he had was games with his dog.
The family left for the region on spring holidays, and at that time the roads were closed: in Baku and the entire Absheron peninsula, residents of the regions and cars registered in the regions were stopped, except for “special” cars (for example, ambulances) and food trucks.
“Everything would be fine, but the Internet is slow,” Murad complains.
All land borders of Azerbaijan with neighboring countries have been closed, air traffic has been suspended. For those Azerbaijanis who, contrary to warnings, went on a trip in March and got stuck in another country, there is a presidential decree that the consequences are their own responsibility.
The metro first worked two hours a day, which caused a stir and overcrowding in the wagon cars. On March 31, it was closed, and there was overcrowding on buses. All businesses in the service sector were closed: cafes, beauty salons, shopping centers do not work.
“I want the day to come soon when we are again riding on the crowded metro, getting on only on the second attempt, going to the mall, and there on the third floor where there are cafes, there’s not a single empty seat, and we have coffee and we go back and forth “scanning” the crowd to guess which of them is going to get up and take their place right away,” one Bakuvian writes on Facebook.
Schoolchildren are taught on television – teachers teach lessons from a television studio created by the ministry, and several TV channels broadcast them. Universities promise to conduct training online, but so far the process has not really started.
Restaurants are operating in home delivery mode, but their services are not in special demand.
The campaign #evdəqal is gaining momentum (stay at home). In addition to videos shot by government agencies, there are amateur videos promoting people stay home and observe the quarantine regulations.
Any outside event other than a funeral is prohibited. No weddings or engagement parties. Wakes cannot be arranged in special halls at mosques, as was customary.
All the big events that were planned for the spring and early summer have been cancelled, including matches of the European Football Championship and the Baku stage of Formula 1 racing.
World oil prices are falling. And since Azerbaijan is an oil producing country, local residents are worried this will lead to another devaluation.
The two previous ones occurred in 2015, then the manat to dollar rate almost halved. So far, the manat holds, but many prefer to buy dollars just in case.
Queues at banks are one of the reasons for the discontent of Bakuvians. One of the comments on social media: “Why does this anti-virus mode create such crowds? Yesterday I came to the bank – everyone is without masks, breathing into the back of one another.”