An Australian couple who were in Peru when it went into military lockdown have spoken out about their horror ordeal.
Nick Gourlay and Nat Read, both 23, were in Cusco in the Andes when authorities imposed strict measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Over the next two weeks, the couple received conflicting information from hostel staff regarding the rules and lived in fear of being arrested.
While they were there forty other backpackers were arrested and forced to sign documents written in Spanish before being released after four hours.
Nick Gourlay (left) and Nat Read (right), both 23, were holidaying in Cusco, Peru when the country suddenly went into military lockdown
Over the next two weeks, the pair received conflicting information from hostel staff regarding the rules of the lockdown and were in constant fear of being arrested
Mr Gourlay said their hostel was forced to shut down after the Peruvian president unexpectedly declared a state of emergency.
He also heard rumours of police targeting backpackers.
‘We started hearing hostels were being raided by police for drinking in the common areas. We were never sure of the rules. Our hostel would sell us beer and say it was fine, but if the police were to come then we were on our own,’ Mr Gourlay told The Australian.
Ms Read said the Australian embassy suddenly closed and they received no word from the government about what they should do.
‘I had no one to call. There was no warning this was going to happen from the Australian government. There were no alerts at all. Nothing to tell us we should stop travelling,’ Ms Read said.
She claimed they were berated by locals for remaining in Peru even though the couple weren’t warned about travel restrictions.
The night before they arrived at a hostel, it was raided by police and 40 backpackers were arrested (pictured: Authorities carry out controls on a street of Lima, Peru)
Ms Read said trying to get out of Peru was ‘chaos’ (pictured: the couple captured the moment they arrived at Sydney Airport)
They received information from a Facebook group that a company was helping stranded Australians return home.
Ms Read said a week after Peru went into lockdown, the Department of Foreign Affairs started working with the company to get Aussies home.
Even though they received help Ms Read said trying to get out of Peru was ‘chaos.’
‘We went to the bus station to try and get a bus out to Lima but none of them were running. There was one flight available to Lima but tickets were around $800 each for an hour flight. There were hundreds of people trying to get out of the city,’ she said.
They managed to charter a flight that would take them from Cusco to Lima where they could catch a connecting flight to Sydney.
The couple said they received no information from DFAT about when the flights would leave and had to rely on the information they received through the charter company.
In total, the flights home cost the couple $5,640 each.
Upon returning to Australia, the pair have been forced to spend 14 days in quarantine at the Sheraton hotel in Sydney’s CBD.