Closed towns emerged in the Soviet era, when they were centres for sensitive research or manufacturing: towns which housed nuclear power plants, scientists working on military projects, or communities clustered around rocket launch pads. Many remain closed today, and require a special permit to visit. One such town is Novouralsk in the Urals of central Russia. Kristina Sergeeva, who was born and raised in Dubai, used to spend every summer in Novouralsk, visiting her grandparents. She returned in 2019, not as a mere visitor but as a researcher, pointing her lenses at the city to study the psychology of isolation. Then, Covid-19 arrived, adding a new and timely twist to her work.