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Banksy coronavirus-inspired art removed from London Underground subway system

This undated photo issued on Tuesday July 14, 2020 by JBPR, shows Banksy's latest work sprayed on the inside of a London Underground tube carriage. Enigmatic graffiti artist Banksy uploaded a video to social media on Tuesday of what appeared to be him in disguise as a professional cleaner spray painting images of rats on the inside of a London Underground train along with messages about spreading the novel coronavirus.
This undated photo issued on Tuesday July 14, 2020 by JBPR, shows Banksy's latest work sprayed on the inside of a London Underground tube carriage. Enigmatic graffiti artist Banksy uploaded a video to social media on Tuesday of what appeared to be him in disguise as a professional cleaner spray painting images of rats on the inside of a London Underground train along with messages about spreading the novel coronavirus. @banksy / Instagram via AP

Earlier this week, Banksy, the mysterious, U.K.-based street artist wowed fans all across the world after sharing footage of the making of his most recent art piece — a graffiti-covered train car in England’s London Underground transit system.

Though the 59-second Instagram video published on the morning of July 14 brought attention to Banksy’s latest coronavirus-inspired work, it was removed before fans of the mysterious artist even knew it existed.

The paintings were removed from the painted Circle Line carriage “some days ago,” before being shared to the internet, as they violated the London Underground’s “strict anti-graffiti policy,” a representative of Transport for London (TfL) told CNN on Tuesday, hours after Banksy’s art initially surfaced on social media.

In an attempt to encourage passengers to wear face masks during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the pertinent art piece sees a number of Banksy’s signature rats running amok inside of the underground train.

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One of the rodents appears to sneeze a slimy green texture on a train window, while another uses the makeshift snot to write graffiti on a carriage door.

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. . If you don’t mask – you don’t get.

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on

Banksy’s behind-the-scenes video was also the first of its kind, as it showed what appeared to be the never-before-seen artist in action, but disguised as a cleaner in a white boiler suit, mask and high-visibility jacket.

Though he wielded what looks to be a sanitary spray bottle, Banksy actually stored his spray paint in it, to deceive passerbys.

Read more: Tom Hanks: ‘When I had coronavirus, my bones felt like they were made of soda crackers’

On why the artwork was cleaned, a representative of the TfL told the BBC that the cleaners were unaware it was created by Banksy and that “it was treated like any other graffiti on the network.”

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“The job of the cleaners is to make sure the network is clean, especially given the current climate,” they added.

Despite having the installation — which Banksy captioned “If you don’t mask – you don’t get” — removed, the spokesperson showed appreciation for the “sentiment of encouraging people to wear face coverings” during the global health crisis.

This undated photo issued on Tuesday July 14, 2020 by JBPR, shows Banksy’s latest work sprayed on the inside of a London Underground tube carriage.
This undated photo issued on Tuesday July 14, 2020 by JBPR, shows Banksy’s latest work sprayed on the inside of a London Underground tube carriage. @banksy / Instagram

They also extended an olive branch by saying that they would like to “offer Banksy the chance to do a new version of his message for (their) customers in a suitable location.”

As of this writing, Banksy has not responded to the removal of his latest artwork. More coronavirus-inspired works by the enigmatic creator can be seen through the official Banksy website.

Read more: Stephen Colbert mocks Trump’s push to reopen schools during COVID-19 spike

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

Coronavirus: UK PM Boris Johnson says people should wear masks in shops
Coronavirus: UK PM Boris Johnson says people should wear masks in shops

In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca