Walk Of Fame almost deserted as Hollywood rocked by coronavirus

By Keiran Southern, PA Los Angeles Correspondent

The Hollywood Walk Of Fame was almost deserted as the the entertainment industry reels from the coronavirus outbreak and California hunkers down to halt its spread.

Gavin Newsom, the state’s governor, announced extraordinary measures directing 40 million residents to stay at home for all but essential jobs and errands.

The instructions, unprecedented in California’s modern history, come as health officials confirmed nearly 300 Covid-19 cases in Los Angeles County alone, with the number rising.

The Walk Of Fame, usually one of Hollywood’s busiest tourist attractions, was almost empty amid the coronavirus pandemic (PA)

While the public often looks to Hollywood for a distraction during times of crisis, the industry has been rocked by the pandemic, with film and TV production almost entirely shutting down with billions of dollars set to be lost.

As perhaps the city’s best-known tourist attraction, the Walk Of Fame would usually be packed with visitors from all over the world who come to see the nearly 2,700 stars dedicated to Hollywood’s biggest names.

However at midday on Friday, Hollywood Boulevard was almost deserted, save for a handful of determined tourists defying the health crisis engulfing much of the world.

The usual vibrant mixture of buskers and actors dressed as famous movie characters was no more, with one of the few remnants of pre-outbreak times a man dressed as Captain America, minus the mask.

Just last month the Dolby Theatre hosted Hollywood’s biggest night, the Academy Awards, and attracted thousands of fans and industry titans including Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Robert De Niro.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has instructed the state’s 40 million residents to stay inside during the coronavirus pandemic (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

Now, the complex is cordoned off, with only security guards walking up the famous staircase.

The TCL Chinese Theatre is also closed to fans. Its forecourt, where stars including Frank Sinatra, John Wayne and Elizabeth Taylor have placed their handprints in cement, was behind a barrier.

Stephanie Brown, 22, and Rachel Brown, 24, flew to Los Angeles from Chicago on Thursday.

Both wearing face masks, they were on the Walk Of Fame to look at Michael Jackson’s star, among others.

“It is very strange, we’re the only ones here,” Stephanie, a student, said. “It has its perks and its downsides. We had to come to LA to understand the severity of the virus.”

Jazmyne Jackson, 30, and Justin Calkins, 28, flew to Los Angeles from their home in Atlanta, Georgia.

They planned the trip before Christmas and realised about a month ago it may not go as expected.

Mr Calkins, an auto industry worker, said: “It’s mixed emotions. Just trying to make the best of it but it is kind of sad to look down and see this street. It’s usually very, very popular and there’s no-one here.”

Ms Jackson said she was looking on the bright side, adding: “It’s not as crowded and we’re able to manoeuvre very easily.”

Despite the sparse crowds, Ron Sinclair, a 66-year-old busker from Chicago, said he was determined to keep playing.

“I’m still me, I’m still doing my purpose,” he said. “My purpose is first to give. Secondly, to hopefully make some money. But I still do my job, regardless. You have to realise you are still playing for people.”