Thousands of Dutch stranded abroad by coronavirus restrictions

Tens of thousands of Dutch travelers are stuck abroad. More and more countries are banning incoming flights from Europe, and Dutch people already there find it almost impossible to leave. They face closed borders, canceled flights, travel organizations that won't answer the phone, and an embassy that can do little for them, NOS reports.

"If you have a European appearance, you are looked at like you are infected," Nanook van der Linden said to the broadcaster from the Philippines. "You are not allowed to go outside, otherwise residents say they will call the police." She is stuck in the Asian country with four fellow students. "We are nurses in training at the Hogeschool Utrecht and would have done internship here in a hospital." But the coronavirus situation escalated soon after their arrival and they were instructed to leave the country. "But all flights and boats have been canceled, so we are stuck on the island. We have been left to our own devices."

Another group of students are stuck in Guatemala. "We received a message from the university advising us to return to the Netherlands, but then we were told that the borders are closing and all flights are being canceled," Annemijn Lamerigts said to the broadcaster. "We keep up with all the news with the whole group, we notice that we are often better informed about the latest developments than the people at the embassy."

Jolande Kole, stuck in Ecuador with her husband, their son and his girlfriend, is also not impressed with the embassy. "I feel properly let down," she said to the broadcaster. "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does nothing for us. We just can't get out of here." They are staying at a hotel - the only guests still there - and can go outside for shopping, but must then return directly. "We have been taken hostage by the coronavirus in Ecuador, we have nowhere to go." All public transport is down and the flights they try to book keep getting canceled. "Why doesn't the government say: 'Let's send a plane and get those people back'? We feel like a refugee with a passport and a credit card, but it's running out."

Bastian and Rianne are stuck in a hotel room in Argentina, and are not allowed at all. "Someone heard me cough, so we have to be quarantined in our hotel room for the next 10 days," Rianne said. "We have already looked at flights, but we only saw options via Australia with days of layover and that cost thousands of euro. We are not going to do that."

Julia Brugman and her boyfriend were road-tripping to Central Asia when they got trapped in Armenia. "When we got to the border with Russia, we heard that the borders are closed," she said to the broadcaster. "We might be able to fly home via Moscow, but we don't want to just leave the car behind. The embassy had no answer to that either."

Elly and Eddy Sherbeijn are stuck in Portugal with their camper. They planned to drive home this week, but were turned away at the Spanish border. They are worried about their medicines. "We only have enough with us for this month," Elly said to NOS. 

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