JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville couple is stranded in Honduras amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United States issued a Level 4 Do Not Travel advisory Thursday urging citizens to avoid international travel. The Honduran government also announced this week it is closing its borders.
The couple originally went to Roatán, Honduras at the end of February on a church mission trip.
They were supposed to leave Saturday. With the borders closed and the travel ban in place, they have no idea when they’ll be able to come back home.
For the past 13 years, Chris and Theresa Imbach have traveled to Honduras for the mission trip. This time, things took a turn as the new coronavirus spread across the world.
“It was Monday or Tuesday of this week that we got a text notification from Delta saying they had canceled the flight for Saturday,” Theresa Imbach said. “It’s been surreal. It feels like the whole world has changed in the three weeks we’ve been here. It’s mind-blowing.”
The Imbach’s say they’re not the only Americans stranded in Roatán, a small island off the coast of the Central American country.
“There’s at least 700 Americans that are on this island of Roatan," Chris Imbach said. "It would be nice if American, Delta, United, could just come together and do the right thing and come evacuate these families.”
The Imbach’s reached out to U.S. leaders.
The U.S. Embassy sent them an email saying Honduras’s borders are closed for seven days and it’s only providing services on an emergency basis.
The Imbach’s said the response is discouraging.
“It’s a desperate situation in the U.S. In a third world country, it’s very desperate. It’s only going from bad to worse very quickly," Chis Imbach said. “We need to get home and take care of our families.”
The couple said they have also reached out to the U.S. Department of state, but still haven’t gotten any answers for if they can evacuate.
They did say that the Canadian Government is sending ghost fights to pick up the Canadians who are stuck in Honduras. They’re hoping the U.S. can do something similar.
A statement from the American Citizen Services Unit reads:
The unprecedented health crisis we are experiencing in Honduras is taking place all over the globe. This has strained the resources of Honduras and the airlines, but the embassy has been working at the highest levels with both to help you get home as soon as possible.
On Friday the government of Honduras provided authorization for commercial, charter, and private aircraft to land in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, and Roatan to fly out stranded foreigners.
We understand air carriers have begun setting up those flights. Continue to check with your airline on flight availability.
While the embassy has been in daily contact with airline headquarters, we do not have access to their booking information. You must seek specific flight information from the company you are ticketed with or seeking to purchase a ticket from.