Local residents among hundreds stuck in Honduras | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Local residents among hundreds stuck in Honduras

Bill and Ally Belair, of Minden, Nev., (left) and Kim and Brian Cohen, of South Lake Tahoe, are stranded on the island of Roatan after Honduras closed its borders last week. Lake Tahoe residents Aaron and Laura Maffitt are also in the group unable to return home.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Six local residents are among several hundred United States citizens stranded in Honduras after the country closed its borders to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Bill and Ally Belair of Minden, Nev., Brian and Kim Cohen and Aaron and Laura Maffitt, of South Lake Tahoe, have been in Honduras, at a resort on the island of Roatan, for about two weeks and have no idea when they are getting home.

“Everything has been shut down — the borders, airlines, we can’t leave the resort — and they keep telling us not to worry, but all the flights are canceled,” Bill Belair told the Tribune. 

Belair lived with his wife, Ally, in South Lake Tahoe for 20 years before moving out of the basin.

“We’re all just anxious,” said Brian Cohen in an email. 

He and his wife own Overland Meat and Seafood Company in South Lake Tahoe. Cohen said the crew is struggling to run the business effectively in their absence since much has changed in the last 10-12 days with the governor closing all non-essential businesses and ordering people to stay home unless it’s essential.

“We’re desperately trying to get back to Overland,” Cohen said. “Every time we see an available flight we book it, only to find out the airline canceled it. We flew here on Avianca which cancelled our return. (We) rebooked on American for Saturday, March 28, which was cancelled. Now we’re rebooked on United for Monday, March 30. Fingers crossed.”

The six locals are among a group of 10, two are from Napa and the other pair are from Alabama, who went to Honduras 12 days ago to vacation and scuba dive in the warm Caribbean water.

“The virus when we left, wasn’t how it is now,” Bill Belair said, and also said there are up to 1,000 US citizens stranded. 

Since they left, Covid-19 has swept across the world and into the United States where the entire country is fighting the spread.

Honduras announced it would close its borders for seven days starting last week, at 11:59 p.m. March 15, and hasn’t re-opened as of Sunday. Even if the borders open, there is no guarantee flights will be available to the United States.

Martial law is in effect for the entire country and Belair said the group was told by the Honduran Navy on Friday to exit the ocean.

“The Honduran Navy came and told us to get out of the water and we also saw some kids playing in the water and they went over there with machine guns in hand and told them to get out,” Belair said.

The group remains at the resort at a discounted rate of $200 a night and said they are being treated well.

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