They may not have been termed as ‘lockdown’, but restrictions on movement of people, vehicles and other things have been enforced several times in the past. Such lockdowns have been imposed for a wide variety of reasons including pandemics, terrorism, natural disasters and man-made disasters. For better understanding, let’s take a look at some of the lockdowns that were imposed before Covid-19.
The first evidence of a lockdown like situation can be found during the Plague of Justinian (Bubonic plague) that occurred from 541–549 AD. The idea was simply to separate the sick from the general population.
A similar situation was witnessed during the Black Death pandemic, which occurred during 1346–1353 AD. At that time, movement of people was restricted in Italy and foreign ships were not allowed to use the sea ports. Some ships that were allowed were asked to quarantine their crew for a month. The present day term ‘quarantine’ is derived from Italian ‘quarantino’, which means a 40-day period.
Lockdowns were also imposed during the Spanish Flu of 1918–1920 AD. Public places like theaters, churches, and dance halls were shut for several months. People were asked to wear anti-germ masks, avoid public transport, avoid crowded streets, and limit contact and talking with other people.
In recent history, a very strict lockdown was imposed in China during the 2002 SARS outbreak. Entire villages, buildings and other places were sealed, resulting in total confinement of thousands of people. These measures were quite harsh, but it allowed China to effectively control the pandemic.
Some examples include disasters such as Chernobyl and Fukushima. In case of Chernobyl nuclear disaster, an area of around 30km-radius from the accident site was completely locked out. This was expanded later and came to be referred as “The Exclusion Zone”. All people living in these areas were evacuated. Something similar had happened at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan in 2011. This nuclear accident was caused by an earthquake and resulting tsunami.
Terror attack lockdowns
One of the most horrific terror attacks was the 9-11 bombing of World Trade Center. As the authorities suspected more terror attacks, the entire American civilian airspace was put under lockdown for three days. Movement through bridges and tunnels leading to Manhattan was also closed. Public places like schools, colleges, and universities were also closed in New York and Washington D.C.
Looking into the past can teach us lessons that can help us with the current pandemic. History can also be encouraging, as it shows that humanity has emerged a winner after battling the worst of crisis situations. So, keep following Covid-19 rules and get vaccinated. This too shall be over soon.