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Here is what it was like in B.C. at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (PHOTOS)

From hoarding toilet paper to people wearing jugs on their heads at the airport, March 2020 looks decidedly different than March 2021.
In early 2020, it seemed inconceivable to many Canadians that coronavirus (COVID-19) would affect our everyday lives in such drastic ways. Photo: Lynne Carter / Facebook

In early 2020, it seemed inconceivable to many Canadians that coronavirus (COVID-19) would affect our everyday lives in such drastic ways.

However, as several of our stories from a year ago indicate, people went from unfazed to panicked fast. Not only did their buying habits change, but many people also started going to extreme measures to protect themselves--or in ways that they thought would protect them. 

People also started doing a great deal more gardening, cooking, and general activities around the home. They also picked up new hobbies or started new rituals, such as the nightly 7 p.m. cheer. 

Have a look at some of the memorable stories from last year during the beginning of the pandemic. 

Vancouver YouTuber visits Costco to witness the Coronavirus crowds

costco-toilet-paper-palletsCostco toilet paper pallets. Screengrab

YouTuber Steven Huynh (and his mom) went to Costco in early March 2020 to see how the coronavirus was drawing crowds... and to buy cauliflower and instant Pho.

He noticed that the toilet paper went lightning-quick, despite the store appearing somewhat empty when they arrived. 

V.I.A. went live from outside Costco in Vancouver, talking toilet paper and coronavirus


In early March 2020, many Vancouverites had not started "pandemic shopping," while others had started hoarding cleaning supplies and toilet paper. When we spoke to some people at a Cosco downtown, a couple of them said they weren't overly concerned--yet. That said, one man that we spoke to said he was unable to buy hand sanitizer because it was completely sold out. 

Couple buys entire meat section of B.C. grocery store, leaves nothing 

covid-19-meat-hoardingPhoto: Screenshot/Castanet
There's hoarding, and then there's buying a grocery store's entire meat section. 

Video taken at the Save-On-Foods in Lake Country, B.C. shows a couple buying the entire meat section of the store, filling two shopping trolleys full. 

Another shopper shared the incident on Facebook, saying the couple "even ran in front of other customers, cutting them off" to ensure they would get every item.

People wearing jugs on their heads 

bottle-head-feature.jpgPhoto: Lynne Carter / Facebook

While it isn't uncommon to see people wearing face masks during an outbreak, some people took more extreme measures to protect themselves before the pandemic was officially declared. 

A person was photographed at Vancouver International Airport in January of 2020 wearing what looks like a plastic container on their head and a mask over their mouth. In an image from the back, it appears that the person has cut a hole into the container in order to make room for their ponytail. 

During that time, the World Health Organization had stopped short of calling it a global health emergency, while officials here said Canadians were at low risk of contracting the illness.

Everyone was whipping up dalgona coffee, a viral drink 

dalgona-coffee-missvancityfoodieDalgona or whipped coffee. Photo: @missvancityfoodie/Instagram

After the pandemic was declared, people started whipping up a variety of new dishes and drinks to keep the blues and boredom at bay. Suddenly everyone was baking banana bread and sourdough loaves. You might have noticed people posting photos of an unusual-looking coffee drink. What appears to be a cloud-like caramel-coloured blob rests atop a full glass of milk (or non-dairy milk), waiting to be stirred together to form a surprising - and arm-aching - new viral food trend: Whipped Coffee.

Also known as "dalgona coffee," this DIY drink takes just four ingredients - and some elbow grease - to make.

We used to do a nightly 7 p.m. cheer 


At 7 o'clock nightly across Metro Vancouver, people were stepping out on their patios, balconies, front steps, and lawns to cheer their hearts out. They were doing it since March 2020, rain or shine, and growing in numbers through April, to show support for the frontline workers who stepped up to take on COVID-19. 

The cheer is for health care workers, as well as for essential workers, like bus drivers, truckers, first responders, delivery people, and anyone who is not able to stay home like many of us are. But the cheer is in a way also for ourselves and our neighbours; by joining together we are fostering our sense of community, and staying connected like never before during this tough time.

--With files from Castanet, Lindsay William-Ross and Bob Kronbauer.