A young Australian woman stranded in a hostel in Peru fears she will be trapped for months as food runs out and the military throws tourists out on the street.
Alexandra Carter, 24, was backpacking through South America unaware of how the deadly pandemic was turning the world upside down.
The 24-year-old is one of 350 Australians stuck in the South American nation with thousands of others around the world desperately trying to get home.
Suddenly when she was in Cusco preparing to visit Machu Picchu last week, Peru was suddenly shut down, leaving her trapped.
‘We were out for dinner and the whole restaurant stopped to watch the president announce Peru would be in a quarantine,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
Alexandra Carter, 24, was backpacking through South America unaware of how the deadly pandemic was turning the world upside down – now she is stuck in a hostel in Cusco
The military patrols the streets accosting anyone outside, evicting tourists for minor infractions and arresting anyone in possession of alcohol
Hundreds of people were stranded in Peru after the South American nation suddenly shut its borders after declaring a state of emergency due to coronavirus
Ms Carter tried to get a flight home to Melbourne but dozens were cancelled and she wasn’t able to get on a plane in time.
Peru’s airports are now entirely closed, along with land borders, leaving hundreds of travellers stranded for what could be months.
‘Not knowing when I can come home is the scary thing,’ Ms Carter said.
The country is so locked down that travellers stuck in hostels aren’t even supposed to congregate and everyone staying at one that had a small party were evicted.
‘We’re only allowed to leave for groceries or medical appointments,’ she said.
‘When leaving the hostel the other day to do the grocery shopping for about 14 of us, a few of us were stopped by the police and asked for identification.’
The Peruvian military is also enforcing a curfew between 8pm and 5am and has banned any kind of travel around the country.
This week food became increasingly scarce and the military began raiding hostels and arresting anyone in possession of alcohol, which is banned during the lockdown.
‘We’re trying to keep our spirits up and keep each other entertained, but we’re all a bit nervous about what’s going on,’ Ms Carter said of the group trapped in the hostel
Suddenly when she was in Cusco preparing to visit Machu Picchu last week, Peru was suddenly shut down, leaving her trapped
Many of the beds at the hostel are marked ‘do not use this bed’ in an attempt at social distancing
Two Australian nurses, Kate Kitto (pictured left) and Genevieve Pyne (right), are trapped in their Lima hotel room after they could not fly home before Peru shut its borders
Ms Carter said she and her fellow backpackers, mostly from Britain and Portugal, were desperately hoping for government evacuation flights.
‘We’re trying to keep our spirits up and keep each other entertained, but we’re all a bit nervous about what’s going on,’ she said.
Ms Carter is one of more than 120 Australians stuck in Cusco, with at least 230 others across Peru who have no idea when they will get home.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the foreign affairs department was working to get Australians in Peru home as soon as possible.
‘I am not going to advance to the point of suggesting any particular flights. But obviously we are working to solve that problem.’
However, flights cannot be arranged without permission from the Peruvian government and would have to take off from a military base.
‘The embassy has been seeking the necessary permissions from the Peruvian government for flights to occur,’ DFAT said.
‘Given the impact of restrictions arising from coronavirus across the world, and specifically in Peru, we understand that this is a difficult situation for travellers.’
Ms Kitto and her friend rushed to the airport but like thousands of other travellers were only greeted with huge lines and cancelled flights
The faces of some of the more than 350 Australians stuck in Peru begging the government for help getting home
Victorian woman Emily Jennings is one of more than 170 Australians trapped in Peru. She has started a GoFundMe page to charter a private jet to evacuate 190 people to the US
Newcastle woman Heidi Clark described the chaos of the airport in the capital Lima as thousands of people rushed to get on flights hours before lockdown.
Peruvian president Martin Vizcarra gave less than 24 hours notice of the airport being shut down as he declared a state of emergency.
‘It was complete chaos and absolute madness,’ Ms Clark told Seven News.
‘Military police were everywhere, hundreds of panicked people were forming lines to nowhere.
‘Mums with small children, people crying, people yelling it was very distressing.’
Like thousands of other stranded tourists, by the time the couple got to the front of massive queues there were no flights and many were cancelled.
Friends Kate Kitto, 25, from the Gold Coast and Genevieve Pyne, 23, from Brisbane also could get on a plane and are stuck in the Miraflores district of Lima.
Dozens of tourists paid more than $5,000 for a charter flight run by a private travel company, but it never took off due to increased government restrictions.
The military is also enforcing a curfew between 8pm and 5am and has banned any kind of travel around the country
This week food became increasingly scarce and the Peruvian military began raiding hostels and arresting anyone in possession of alcohol, which is banned during the lockdown
Some desperate Australians tried to crowdfund $525,000 to hire a charter plane themselves and fly to Dallas in the U.S. and find their way home from there.
Victorian women Emily Jennings and Serena Horg hoped with 190 people paying US$1,000 each, they would just need $50 from enough donors.
‘Peru shut its travel borders on Monday the 16th of March with little to no notice, and left hundreds of people stranded with no information as to how long we’d be stuck here,’ Ms Jennings wrote on GoFundMe.
‘If we don’t get the numbers needed your wonderful and generous donations will help cover the gap.
‘The rest I am covering from what is left of my savings/house deposit money. But I don’t mind, no amount of money is worth more than being back on Australian soil with my children in my arms.’