Serbia's sealed off playgrounds capture coronavirus quiet

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Belgrade (AFP)

With yellow caution tape strung across slides, swings and seesaws, Belgrade's empty playgrounds have become an eerie symbol of the silence that coronavirus has imposed on ordinary life.

Children's laughter is gone from the parks that look more like crime scenes, with ribbons of tape sealing off play sets normally clambering with young kids.

Like countries around the world, Serbia is under lockdown to fight the coronavirus that killed more than 40,000 people worldwide.

Over the past few weeks, Belgrade has gradually imposed increasingly restrictive measures, including closing its playgrounds on March 21.

A social city known for teeming outdoor cafes and a bustling street life has fallen unusually silent.

In the shuttered parks, the cautionary tape captured the eye of an AFP photographer.

"I found the way they look very interesting, a small yellow horse wrapped like a gift," said photographer Vladimir Zivojinovic.

"I walked through the playgrounds to look for installations tied in an interesting way".

With schools and parks closed, children are now cooped up at home.

Jelena Markovic, a mother of two, tries to make the best of a tough situation.

"Although the decision is difficult for us parents, I believe it is justified," said the 41-year-old economist.

She counts on video games to entertain her eight and 12-year-old.

For photographer Zivojinovic, the lockdown has cast the Serbian capital in a new light.

"At certain moments, that silence is pleasant and at some point it becomes really creepy," he said.

"People didn't leave with their family for holidays, but are shut in their flats fearing of becoming infected".