London's Abbey Road repainted amid coronavirus lockdown

By Lilit Marcus, CNN

    (CNN) -- One of the most famous streets in the world has had an unexpected makeover thanks to the coronavirus lockdown in the UK.

London's iconic Abbey Road, which is normally a tourist magnet thanks to its appearance on the Beatles album cover of the same name, is now empty as locals hunker down inside.

That has provided a rare opportunity for municipal employees in the UK capital to give the famous crossing a new coat of paint.

But there's more to caring for the legendary northwest London crosswalk -- or zebra crossing, as the Brits would say -- than simply waiting for the crowds to disperse.

In 2010, Abbey Road was given protected status in the UK, making it the first street crossing to get the same level of recognition as famous buildings and monuments.

"This London zebra crossing is no castle or cathedral but, thanks to the Beatles and a 10-minute photoshoot one August morning in 1969, it has just as strong a claim as any to be seen as part of our heritage," John Penrose, then-Minister for Tourism and Heritage, told reporters at the time of the announcement.

Abbey Road -- both the street and the studio where the album was recorded -- are Grade II-listed, giving them the same status of national heritage as the Bath city walls, the Cambridge University library and the Tate Gallery. That means any repairs or changes must be approved by the local government.

Abbey Road is not the only tourist attraction in the world to be transformed due to a rare lack of crowds.

The water in Venice's famous canals has become clearer since Italy began its lockdown earlier this month.

However, it isn't due to pollution magically clearing up in a few weeks' time -- rather, the lack of gondola traffic has enabled sediment to sink to the bottom of the canals, creating a look of clarity.

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