2020 through the eyes of Europe's 'unseen' key workers

A postman wearing a protective face mask delivers mail on March 27 in Paris, France

(CNN)In March 2020, Europe's towns, cities and airports ground to a halt as the first wave of Covid-19 sent residents indoors. In the following months, many people began working from home. But amid the chaos and uncertainty, key workers including farm staff, transport employees and postal workers continued to perform their jobs as normal, forming an often invisible frontline during the pandemic.

Here are some of their stories.

A farm worker in Britain

    Ingrida Bernotiene lives and works on a salad farm in Kent, southeast England.
      The 33-year-old is originally from Lithuania and started working in agriculture aged 20, as a seasonal worker. She is now a production manager and helps oversee seasonal workers in the fields.
        Bernotiene has worked throughout the pandemic, often spending whole days outside checking crops.
        England entered its first national lockdown in March and a second one in November. The UK has been one of the worst-hit countries in Europe, with a tally of more than 71,000 deaths linked to Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. But farms have continued to operate, in a crucial effort to maintain food supply.
          "We were working day by day, six days a week [in the summer]," Bernotiene told CNN, adding that her schedule had been unaffected by the pandemic.
          "And [we] usually start at 5 am and finish at 4 pm, and [have a] one-hour break. We didn't really feel [scared] much because we feel quite isolated here, [as] this farm is in the middle of the fields."
          Ingrida Bernotiene works on a salad farm in Kent, in southern England.
          She added: "In the beginning [in March] we were more stressed."
          Bernotiene said staff took precautions to socially distance and that during the summer the pandemic limited leisure opportunities.
          "[There was] no traveling, no socializing, no pubs or restaurants," she said.
          "We work a lot, [...] so usually in the summer anyway we have no proper life, so we [did not] miss ... much."
          Bernotiene's partner also lives and works on the farm. But most of her family is in Lithuania and she hasn't been able to visit them since the pandemic began.
          "That was the most difficult thing," she told CNN.
          "They couldn't visit me [and] I couldn't visit them. Usually we see each other maybe once or twice a year."
          Bernotiene will spend Christmas on the farm this year, where she and her boyfriend are planning to celebrate with a turkey for two.

          Taxi drivers in Italy

          The first coronavirus wave in Europe upended life in Italy. Hospitals were overcrowded with dying patients and lockdown was strictly enforced. On March 27, 2020, the country's civil protection authorities announced that 969 people had died in just 24 hours.
          Massimo Mancinelli is a taxi driver in Rome. During the lockdown in March, he suffered a 90% drop in business. The continued lack of tourism and events has paralyzed the sector, according to the 60-year-old.
          Mancinelli said he was currently only making 30% of his pre-pandemic income.
          "Tourism and business are at a total standstill. Companies have allowed for teleworking from home, and cities, especially the historic centers, are totally deserted compared to in past years."
          Massimo Mancinelli is a taxi driver who lives in Rome, Italy. He's suffered a significant drop in business this year.
          He added: "There is just no request for mobility ... the entire sector is at a standstill without any solutions ahead."
          Mancinelli's comments were echoed by Andrea Carlieri, another of the city's taxi drivers.
          Carlieri was born and raised in Rome and has worked behind the wheel for 15 years.
          "Still today, the taxi sector is at a standstill because of the lack of tourists, events, ceremonies, concerts and shows," the 48-year-old told CNN.
          "Solidarity is talked about often, but in reality is a lot less."
          Carlieri added: "I have hope from the health care point of view even if I believe that economically, 2021 will still be very negative."

          A postal worker in France

          Esther Benderradji has three small children and lives in the small town of Senones in eastern France.
          The 39-year-old has worked as a postal worker for the past five years and occasionally uses a "staby," a three-wheel electric scooter, to deliver the mail.
          France imposed a stringent new lockdown in late October. Some of the restrictions were eased on December 15 but several remain in place. as the government grapples with a high Covid-19 case count.
          For many of the people Benderradji delivers mail to, the arrival of the post has become a chance to connect with a familiar face.