By Marissa Stern
As the spread of the Coronavirus continues, nations across the globe have started taking the necessary precautions to slow the spread of the virus by banning international travel, implementing stay-at-home orders, and closing nonessential businesses. However, nations abruptly closing their borders has negatively impacted travelers. Globally, over thirteen thousand Americans are stranded overseas. In Peru, there around six thousand students, vacationers, and temporary workers struggling to find a way back to the United States.
On March 15th, Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra abruptly closed all borders within twenty-four hours to slow the spread of COVID-19. Airports were closed and a mandatory quarantine was issued. Although a handful of Americans were lucky enough to catch one of the few remaining flights, a majority were left wondering when they would be allowed to come back home.
On March 26th, President Vizcarra announced that Peru would remain in a state of emergency until April 12th. As of April 2nd, he announced that Peru would set a limit as to the amount of people allowed to leave their home by allowing different genders to go out on different days. Men would be allowed to leave the house on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while women would be allowed to leave the house on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. No one would be allowed to leave the house on Sundays. However, this order excludes essential workers, such as pharmacists and bankers.
As of right now, the United States government is their only hope. Many airlines have cancelled flights due to bans, airspace closures, and low demands for travel. However, many Americans feel that the U.S Embassy in Peru fails to deliver relevant and correct information. The U.S Embassy can only be reached by email, but communication can take days. A group of students travelled to the U.S Embassy demanding answers but were surprised to learn that it was closed. A few weeks ago, the U.S government made conflicting statements about sending military transport to Peru but decided against it. However, the United States is going to transform a U.S government provided hangar at the Peruvian Air Force Base into a processing center to help expedite the process.
Before sending Americans back to the United States, the Peruvian government wants reassurance that any Peruvian in the United States will be sent back to Peru. Peru said that this issue is a two-way conversation and is in no way a hostage situation. For now, the United States government recommends that students and vacationers quarantine themselves and wait to hear for confirmed transportation back to the United States.
When Jesse Curry, a Florida native, and his family traveled to Peru on March 13th, he never thought that he and his family would be stranded in a foreign country. Since the United States continues to provide inaccurate and irrelevant information, Curry and thousands of others started to organize their own information networks online. They began by creating a Facebook group called “Americans Stuck in Peru” to take note of how many Americans were left in a similar situation and to share information. Curry has been helping others locate pharmacies to fill prescriptions and sign up for STEP, a State Department service that informs travelers of travel bans while abroad.
This issue has instilled panic in many Americans. They worry about losing their jobs and many do not have the finances to remain abroad for an extended amount of time. With thousands of Americans overseas, the U.S government needs to focus on presenting consistent and accurate information to its citizens.