SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Hundreds of Americans are stuck in Peru after the nation closed its borders.
Peru’s president issued a 15-day nationwide state of emergency on Sunday over the coronavirus. Following the announcement, flights were canceled almost immediately. The U.S. embassy posted a security alert warning Americans who did not reschedule their flights to arrange for lodging in the country.
Many Americans scrambled to get a flight back to the U.S. from Peru, but were told that it would be nearly impossible to get a ticket for a flight that was leaving the country. Thursday, I spoke with two Suncoast residents who are being forced to stay indoors and self quarantine, per Martín Vizcarra, the President of Peru.
“Usually I’m pretty generous, but I’m getting a little selfish with this virus. I’m kind of protecting myself," said Deanie Escott, a resident of Sarasota. She took a trip earlier this month through a travel agency and was assured that there wouldn’t be any problem. She found out about the nation closing it’s borders while visiting Machu Picchu, at the sacred valley. After being put on lock down, she became worried. “I am not going to lie I had anxiety for about a day or so after I found out that we wouldn’t be able to leave until April.”
Jeanna Saulo, a Palmetto resident who also traveled to Peru found out that the nation closed its borders a day after she arrived. After going to the U.S. embassy, she arrived to find a note on the door saying that it was closed and to come back in 15 days. She then took a trip to Lima, Peru in hopes of finding a flight back home. “When we got there it was just chaos and there was not even staff for our airlines and every single other airlines said that there was no tickets available. So, once it hit midnight they pretty much kicked everyone out on the street and said that we are closing the airport. And it’s just been crazy since then.”
Escott was thankful for her staff at the hotel that she is staying at. “The staff has been wonderful to us since we’ve been here. They have reduced room rates from $750 to only $100 a night. They also reduced laundry rates by more than 70 percent."
Saulo was only planning to stay for a couple of days before flying back to the U.S. After she was unable to get a flight home she had to walk two hours to the nearest hotel. This hotel automatically charged that for 15 nights at $150 a night. “Not only does this hurt me financially, I really missed my daughter and I just want to give her a hug," said Saulo. She said that FaceTime is the closest that she can get to seeing her daughter until her next flight is allowed to leave the country.
“In order to eradicate this virus we need to come together as a nation. For example, one person at a time in the neighborhood could run to the store for several other neighbors in the community. And one last thing don’t hoard, I still do not understand the toilet paper," says Escott.
A state department official say they have advised Americans trying to leave Peru to monitor the embassy website. Enroll in the smart traveler enrollment program and check with their airlines for updated information.