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Gottheimer, Menendez Work To Bring Home New Jersey Residents Stranded Abroad During COVID-19 Crisis

North Jersey lawmakers are committed to bring home Americans stranded in countries around the world that closed their borders to in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus, countries around the world have imposed travel bans and advisories. In many cases, the tourists had little or no warning travel restrictions were being implemented and they found themselves stuck in countries such as Peru, Argentina, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Morocco, Guatemala, Ukraine, India and Honduras. 

Since the start of the outbreak in March, the U.S State Department reported that it has helped more than 30,000 Americans stranded in 60-plus countries board 375 U.S.-bound flights and said more than 24,000 U.S. citizens remain stuck overseas.

NJ Residents Return Home

Gottheimer recently announced the safe return of 16 North Jersey residents and vowed to continue his efforts “until every single Fifth District resident stranded outside of our borders is back with their loved ones.”

“I’m incredibly thankful that so many Fifth District residents and families have been able to return home through our ongoing work with the U.S. State Department and embassies abroad,” Gottheimer said. “During this global outbreak, changing travel restrictions, borders closing, and canceled flights have left many Americans unable to get home.”

Stranded in Peru

Fifteen Americans who found themselves under as mandatory 28-day quarantine at a hostel in Peru were successfully evacuated on April 3, according to Menendez.

The senator said he learned of the situation after the family of a hostel guest, New Jersey native Kacie Brandenberg, contacted his office.

“As the United States and the world grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of American citizens have found themselves trapped overseas amidst travel restrictions imposed by foreign governments,” Menendez said.  

Quarantined Abroad

In this case, the Senator said Brandenberg and her friends were quarantined inside a hotel in close conditions with guests who tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This alarming situation required urgent attention and I repeatedly brought it to the attention of the highest levels of the U.S. and Peruvian governments,” stated Menendez.

Menendez recognized the leadership of the dedicated State Department professionals that responded to this particular case.

“While it should have never taken this long to help evacuate our citizens, my sense is that the State Department is in a much better place to finish evacuating the thousands of Americans waiting to come home,” he stated. “The scope and scale of this unparalleled challenge—and the obligation we owe our fellow citizens—demands our continued attention.”

 If You Need Help

The State Department has urged Americans overseas to contact their local consultants. If they are unsure about returning home, they should err toward returning, according to the department.

Any Fifth District residents who are stranded abroad and need assistance should reach out to Gottheimer at coronavirusNJ5@mail.house.gov

Menendez’s office can be reached at COVIDTravel@menendez.senate.gov.

When traveling internationally, authorities have requested trips be registered through the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free service allows American citizens to receive security updates from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, including updated travel advisories related to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

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