A couple from Cork are among about 40 Irish tourists trapped under Martial Law in Peru as the country deals with the Covid-19 crisis.
Andrew Cotter, from Mitchelstown, and his girlfriend Marie, from Conna, were given just a few hours notice that tourists had to leave the country. It is now under military-imposed lockdown that is expected to last until at least March 31.
The couple are in a hotel in Cusco, some 20 hours by land from the country’s capital city, Lima.
They have called on the Government to get them out. However, the only flight available to them at the moment is going to cost at least $3,500 — money Mr Cotter and his girlfriend do not have.
He told the Irish Examiner: “I am one of approximately 40 Irish citizens stuck in Peru at the moment. “We are in a military, police lockdown and imposed curfew and Martial Law.
“We are attempting to get home but we currently have no option to move within or out of the country.
“We have been in contact with the Irish embassy in Chile and the consulate in Bolivia.
“We have been tentatively offered a potential flight back to London at the weekend at a cost between $3,500 and $7,500.
“But most people will not be able to afford that flight if it goes ahead.”
They are two of four Irish staying at the Milhouse Hostel in the south eastern city of Cusco, where most of the Irish are staying.
The couple were two and a half months into their eight-month South and Central America trip, which started on December 31 in Rio, Brazil.
Mr Cotter says the Irish and British embassies are offering a flight for stranded tourists from Ireland and the UK through a private colombian company, Avianca.
While flights normally cost about €300, the Irish embassy has told Mr Cotter the high price being asked for “reflects the cost of bringing a sufficiently-large plane to Peru, a connecting smaller flight from Cusco, and what is involved in negotiating permissions from the authorities”.
He said the email the couple received from the Irish embassy also told them: “Avianca can only commit to this charter once they know there is sufficient demand.
“This is the only charter option we are aware of that is likely to be available direct to London at this point.”