Sixty-two-year-old Rhonda Klein wants her vacation to end. But she can’t figure out how to get home.
The Atlanta-based lawyer is one in a tour group of 12 Americans stranded in Marrakesh, Morocco, unsure how to leave a day after much of the country went into a sudden lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Klein has been frantically calling the State Department and members of Congress, she said, but so far they have not been able to do much.
“The State Department has not been of any help,” she told The Washington Post. “Not only can no one tell us anything, but what we do get told is conflicting information.”
“We know we have a lot of congresspeople who are supposedly, and I’ll trust are, trying to help us,” she said. “But I think there’s only so much they can do, which isn’t a lot.”
A State Department official told The Post that it’s aware some countries have imposed new flight suspensions and it’s “considering all options to assist U.S. citizens in these countries and are continuously assessing travel conditions in all areas affected by COVID-19.”
Morocco on Sunday announced it was suspending all international flights and on Monday closed restaurants, mosques and entertainment centers.
That left Klein’s tour group, which also included a Canadian citizen, in a desperate bind as borders worldwide continued to close. Seven people in the group are 60 or older, and at least two people, including Klein, have a preexisting health condition, putting them in the most at-risk bracket. Klein said she needs a medication she cannot easily get in Morocco.
Before the trip, Klein had some apprehension about traveling during a global outbreak, but her overall sense was that Morocco would remain a relatively safe bet.
Since the border closed, she has watched Canadian tourists in similar situations find a way home, while she said she has struggled to get a straight answer from a U.S. official over what planes are flying into the United States.
“It’s a mess over here,” she said.
In February, the United States evacuated hundreds of U.S. citizens and residents from Wuhan, China, then the epicenter of the epidemic. Some evacuees described the journey as disorganized and frustrating.
In recent days, the United States has put in place bans on travelers from Europe, leaving U.S. citizens in a desperate dash to return on the few remaining outbound planes. Subsequent crowds arriving in U.S. airports have been packed together at customs, forced to violate the official directive to maintain a safe distance.