US evacuates American travelers in Morocco

US evacuates American travelers in Morocco
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The U.S. government on Friday arranged flights to evacuate Americans stuck in Morocco after the country closed its borders to stem the flow of coronavirus. 

The State Department and U.S. Mission in Morocco arranged special chartered flights for U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents to leave Marrakech beginning Friday morning, the U.S. Embassy in Morocco wrote on its twitter page. 

 

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Hundreds of Americans are believed marooned in Morocco after the country closed its borders under short notice last week, following the lead of countries all around the world that are canceling international travel for up to two weeks in an effort to prevent imported cases of coronavirus. 

The State Department on Thursday raised its travel threat level to Level 4, the most serious warning to Americans to avoid all international travel, return to the U.S. immediately from abroad or prepare to shelter in place.  

“If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe,” the warning read.  

But the border closures beginning last week left travelers scrambling as airlines canceled flights without notice. It remained unclear if borders would open after the quarantine period. In Morocco, American travelers reported that hotels were beginning to shut down and there was little option to get food. 

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After days of uncertainty, the U.S. Embassy in Morocco announced it had secured chartered flights through British Airways for Friday, to ferry passengers out of Marrakech to London’s Heathrow airport. From there, Americans could take flights to 10 cities in the U.S.

These include Miami, Los Angeles, Newark, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York City, Seattle, San Francisco and Dallas-Fort Worth. 

Americans traveling on the flights are expected to reimburse the government for the one-way ticket for the price of $1,485. Signing of a promissory note to repay the ticket price is contingent on the passenger being able to board the flight, the U.S. Embassy said in its announcement. 

Countries with large numbers of internationals stuck in their borders after their initial quarantine announcement are beginning to soften regulations to allow for the departure of foreigners. 

The embassy made the announcement on Twitter Thursday night, with some Americans still concerned they’d be unable to travel to Marrakech in time and under the quarantine.

Other countries were also working on organizing flights out of Morocco, including the United Kingdom, France and Canada.

The news that the U.S. government organized flights to evacuate Americans was welcomed by another group of travelers in Peru, where more than 1,400 Americans are pleading with the State Department to find flights to bring them home.   

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMilitary personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has total of 20 patients: report Fauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders MORE said on Thursday that he was considering using the military to bring them home, although the Department of Defense has not confirmed such plans.

The U.S. Embassy in Peru is encouraging Americans stuck in the country to register with South American air carriers that are gauging interest in a chartered flight to the U.S.

The Peruvian government is also asking Americans to register online to get a sense of how many people are in the country.