Coronavirus Concerns Strand Honeymooning Couple at Maldives Resort

When highly-anticipated trips go very wrong

Maldives
Staying at a resort in the Maldives sounds great — but what if you end up stuck there?
Nevit Dilmen/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / April 5, 2020 2:49 pm

Most accounts of being stranded somewhere unexpected while traveling involve being deprived of things — food, bathrooms or other amenities, for instance. The numerous accounts of the Fyre Festival are perhaps most instructive here, but so is the story of Merhan Karimi Nasseri — whose years of living in an airport inspired the film The Terminal.

At The New York Times, David Zweig tells the story of young newlyweds who are experiencing their own version of being in a place under very different circumstances than they’d expected. Olivia and Raul De Freitas, a honeymooning couple from South Africa, splurged on their honeymoon and traveled to the Maldives. It’s not hard to see why: the island nation offers clear waters, abundant wildlife and memorable accommodations.

Where things got tricky for the couple came with their timing. They arrived on the 22nd of March for what they’d planned to be a 6-day stay. Zweig writes that, while they’d been concerned about pending travel restrictions, they had been told not to worry: “their travel agent assured them that, whatever policy was forthcoming, all South African citizens would be allowed back home.”

Then came a slew of international travel restrictions, including one in the Maldives. The couple were faced with a difficult challenge: should they go to the closest airport by boat and risk not being able to get back to the resort? Instead, they stayed. When they checked in with the South African embassy, they were told that their only option for getting back home involved charting a jet with other South Africans currently in the Maldives — a six-figure expense.

The flight is still an option, but at present the couple remains at their resort — which also affects the lives of the resort’s staff:

The resort’s full staff are at hand, because of the presence of the two guests. Government regulations won’t allow any Maldivians to leave resorts until after they undergo a quarantine that follows their last guests’ departure.

Earlier today, the Times reports, the couple were taken by boat to another resort — an effort to consolidate the South Africans still in the Maldives in one location. While not a definitive conclusion to the narrative, it’s at least an ending for one chapter of it.

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