Before-and-after photos show dialed-down Anzac Day celebrations across Australia and New Zealand under coronavirus lockdown

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On left, the Anzac Day dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance on April 25, 2015; on right, the dawn service on Saturday. Getty Images/Rosie Perper/Business Insider
  • Countries around the world have enforced lockdown measures meant to limit the novel coronavirus’ spread.
  • Social gatherings are largely banned under lockdown, and people have had to adjust how they mark holidays and milestones while in isolation.
  • This weekend marked Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that honours citizens who died in war or conflict.
  • While the holiday has been observed in past years with large gatherings, photos show how this year’s celebrations were dialed down in accordance with coronavirus restrictions.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Lockdown measures put in place to curb the novel coronavirus’ spread have reshaped the way people around the world interact with one another. These social-distancing measures are felt every day, from shuttered businesses to travel restrictions, though the feeling of distance is amplified during celebrations of milestones or holidays.

This weekend marked Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that honours soldiers in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who died in World War I. It also more broadly commemorates Australian and New Zealand citizens who died in war or conflict.

The occasion is usually first marked by a dawn service, honouring the time when Australian and New Zealand forces first landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in World War I. Marches and vigils usually follow, though this year’s activities were mostly halted because of lockdown rules.

Tens of thousands of people have attended these memorial rituals in years past, but this year most public festivities in Australia and New Zealand on Anzac Day were cancelled and citizens were instead encouraged to mark the occasion while holding candles in their driveways at dawn.

While most people commemorated the event from their homes, a determined few still showed up at dawn at major memorial sites while authorities stood guard to ensure social-distancing rules were observed.

These photos show what this year’s scaled-down ceremonies looked like compared with the massive gatherings of people in previous years.


The Shrine of Remembrance is the National War Memorial of Victoria, Australia. Each year, a service is held at dawn to mark Anzac Day.

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A member of the Australian Army during the 2015 Dawn Service on Anzac Day at the Shrine of Remembrance on April 25, 2015, in Melbourne, Australia. Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Source: Australian Broadcasting Channel


Though this year’s services at the Shrine of Remembrance were instead held over a live broadcast on Facebook, a handful of people still showed up to the memorial site at dawn.

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Source: Facebook


There is always an enhanced police presence at the site on Anzac Day.

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A police officer during the memorial service marking the Anzac Day at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne on April 25, 2019. Xinhua/Bai Xuefei via Getty Images

This year was no exception, as authorities were stationed around the memorial site to ensure people were maintaining distance and abiding by the law.

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About 25,000 people gathered in 2019 to mark the dawn service.

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People at the Shrine of Remembrance for the Anzac Day dawn service in Melbourne on April 25, 2019. WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images


Source: 3AW


But this year, only several dozen devoted citizens observed the early-morning silent service.

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A crowd of 35,000 people filled the space in 2018.

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People at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance to pay their respects during the dawn service of the Anzac day in Melbourne on April 25, 2018. Recep Sakar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images


Source: Shrine of Remembrance


This year, about 75 people marked the occasion in front of the shrine.

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People in attendance usually wave Australian and New Zealand flags to show their support.

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A woman showing support for people taking part in the Anzac Day March on Anzac Day at the Shrine of Remembrance on April 25, 2015, in Melbourne. Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Among the few in attendance this year, the displays of pride were more subdued.

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During the dawn services in previous years, the ground was barely visible given the crowds.

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People gathered for the 2015 Dawn Service on Anzac Day at the Shrine of Remembrance on April 25, 2015, in Melbourne.
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Scott Barbour/Getty Images

But this year, the area was almost empty.

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In past years, thousands of people gathered around the eternal flame outside the Shrine.

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People near the eternal flame at the 2015 Dawn Service on Anzac Day at the Shrine of Remembrance on April 25, 2015. Scott Barbour/Getty Images

This year, the space around the flames was remarkably empty.

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Thousands of people usually line up to enter the Shrine to pay their respects during the dawn service.

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People outside the Shrine on Anzac Day on April 25, 2017.
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Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

This year, a gate blocked off the entrance of the shrine to passersby.

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The large crowds usually pack people close to one another.

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It rained heavily during the dawn service of the Anzac Day commemoration at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne on April 25, 2017.
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Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

This year, those in attendance deliberately stood at a distance.

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Despite the early-morning start time, the Shrine consistently brings in large gatherings.

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The crowd at the 2015 Dawn Service on Anzac Day at the Shrine of Remembrance on April 25, 2015, in Melbourne. Shrine Of Remembrance/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

This year, the crowd mainly consisted of members of the media and police officers.

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Tens of thousands also usually gather at other memorial sites around Australia. In 2016, massive crowds showed up at the Australian War Memorial in the Australian capital, Canberra.

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Anzac Day dawn service at the Australian War Memorial on April 25, 2016, in Canberra. Stefan Postles/Getty Images

This year, the grounds at the Australian War Memorial were eerily quiet, and the dawn service was livestreamed.

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The Stone of Remembrance and the empty forecourt ahead of the Anzac Day commemorative service at the Australian War Memorial on April 25 in Canberra. Alex Ellinghausen-Pool via Getty Images

Source: Australian War Memorial


In previous years, officials laid wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after the national service at the memorial as several guards looked on.

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Former Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and Lynn Cosgrove lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after the national service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on April 25, 2015. MARK GRAHAM/AFP via Getty Images

This year, fewer people were present inside the tomb at the wreath-laying ceremony.

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Jenny Morrison lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier during the Anzac Day commemorative service at the Australian War Memorial on April 25 in Canberra. Alex Ellinghausen-Pool via Getty Images

After the ceremony, attendees typically stream into the memorial’s remembrance area.

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The remembrance area at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on April 25, 2015. MARK GRAHAM/AFP via Getty Images

This year, the memorial site was shut to the public.

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The Australian War Memorial on April 25 in Canberra. Alex Ellinghausen-Pool via Getty Images

In previous years, crowds would line up to lay Flanders poppies into the walls of the memorial site at the Australian War Memorial.

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Crowds following the Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial on April 25, 2019, in Canberra. Rohan Thomson/Getty Images

This year, the walls were filled with flowers, but the halls were devoid of members of the public.

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The empty Australian War Memorial on April 25 in Canberra.
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Rohan Thomson/Getty Images

In previous years, tens of thousands of people would gather to lay wreaths at Sydney’s memorial monument called the Cenotaph at Martin Place.

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Dignitaries lay wreaths at the Cenotaph during the Anzac Day dawn service in Sydney on April 25, 2018. PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images

This year, the area was much quieter.

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A man passing the Sydney Cenotaph in Martin Place on April 25 in Sydney. James D. Morgan/Getty Images

This year, the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park was nearly empty for the dawn service.

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The Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park on April 25 in Sydney. Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

In North Bondi, a popular beach in Sydney, military cadets stood guard to ensure social-distancing rules were enforced.

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A military cadet posing after an Anzac Day Dawn Service outside North Bondi RSL Club at Bondi Beach on April 25 in Sydney. Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

In Perth, the Flame of Remembrance and Pool of Reflection at the State War Memorial were also nearly empty at dawn this year.

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In previous years, Anzac Day ceremonies in New Zealand would draw thousands of people.

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People at the Anzac Day ceremony in Christchurch, New Zealand, on April 25, 2019. Xinhua/Zhu Qiping via Getty Images

This year, memorial sites were left empty as traditional ceremonies were cancelled.

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The Bridge of Remembrance on April 25 in Christchurch. Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

In previous years, ceremonies at the Auckland War Memorial Museum drew large crowds for high-profile Anzac Day services. Last year, Prince William attended the service alongside New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern.

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Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, at the Anzac Day Civic Service with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Mayor Phil Goff, and Clarke Gayford at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on April 25, 2019, in Auckland, New Zealand. Phil Walter/Getty Images

This year, the museum saw fewer people.

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The sun rises over the Auckland War Memorial Museum on April 25 in Auckland.
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Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Still, people across Australia and New Zealand found creative ways to mark the occasion. Many held a candle and stood outside their homes in solidarity with the dawn services while obeying social-distancing rules.

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Two Australians outside their home after observing the Dawn Service from the driveway on April 25 in Canberra. Rohan Thomson/Getty Images

Veterans and civilians alike stood in their driveways for the dawn service.

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A Vietnam veteran named Clive Robartson paying his respects at dawn with fellow residents from the driveway at the RAAFA Air Force Memorial Estate on April 25 in Perth. Paul Kane/Getty Images

Here, a marine stands outside his mailbox in Auckland.

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Able Marine Technician Troy Pemberton paying his respects at dawn on the end of his driveway on April 25 in Auckland.
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Phil Walter/Getty Images

And while in previous years, people usually march through the streets as part of a military parade after the dawn services …

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Veterans in the Anzac Day march on Elizabeth Street on April 25, 2018, in Sydney. James D. Morgan/Getty Images

This year, people chose to participate in the parades from their cars.

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Families and friends waved to relatives and residents at the RAAFA Air Force Memorial Estate during a parade on April 25 in Perth. Paul Kane/Getty Images