TAMPA, Fla. - As countries close their borders to slow the spread of the coronavirus, American tourists are left scrambling to find ways back to the U.S.
So far, nearly 3,300 citizens have been brought back to the states from Peru, but the families of a group from Florida say their loved ones are essentially being held hostage in the developing country.
It was supposed to be an epic, 8-day trip to hike Machu Picchu. But for the group of five friends from Orlando, it quickly turned into a disaster after arriving at the Pariwana Hostel in Cusco.
“Just finished dinner about 10 p.m., came back to our hostel and they were shutting down, and essentially that night they said that they were closing the borders in 2 hours,” explained Zachary Meckstroth.
There was no time to leave. On March 15, Peru was put under a national state of emergency.
Then last week, things got worse.
“We got a notice that two people in our hostel tested positive for coronavirus and that we were going to go under a mandatory, stricter, unique quarantine and our hostel was taken over by the Ministry of Health,” Zachary said.
The 28-year-old told FOX 13 News more than 100 international travelers are at the hostel, and they’re being told the lockdown could last up to three months.
Six people are packed into the small room he’s staying in. We’re told no one is allowed to leave the property, photos show it’s barricaded and actively guarded.
However, no one inside is being tested for the virus.
“It’s not safe for us, we need to get out of here into a more controlled environment that is not so hostile and we can’t get out of,” said Zachary.
Video from another group of Americans who tried to leave the hostel Sunday to get on a government rescue flight shows local authorities rushing over and forcing them back inside. Zachary and his friends also missed their ticket home. The hostel manager telling them they will face jail time if they try to leave.
The U.S. Embassy in Peru is aware of the situation, tweeting out they’re working to resolve things with the Peruvian Government.
“We want to come home, that’s our biggest goal right now, working every day tirelessly talking to Senators, Congresspeople, anyone who will listen to us to help get us out of here and home,” Zachary said.
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