The Giza pyramid complex. The Leaning Tower of Pisa. The Western Wall. These historic sites and others all over the world are usually teeming with tourists, vendors, and guides. But as they close and empty due to COVID-19, the tourists have been replaced by other figures. Municipal workers from sanitation and utility departments, as well as volunteers, can be seen sanitizing these public places. Usually clad in masks, gloves, and protective suits, their job is often to pressure wash these famous spots or spray them with disinfectant.
Sanitation workers are vulnerable even in the best of times, and now they’re even more vital to maintaining a livable public environment. Alongside healthcare workers, they’re certainly “essential personnel,” at the very front lines of facing the pandemic.
Atlas Obscura has collected some images of those giving a helpful hand at historic sites that, thanks to their efforts, will one day welcome tourists again.