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Wednesday, November 30, 2022
COVID-19: Home sweet home: Stranded NOTLers catch flight home from Peru

They wanted planes, they got them.

Two Niagara-on-the-Lakers who were stuck in quarantine in Peru have arrived home safely, and are now quarantining again.

Scott Robinson and Chelsea Widdicombe, both 23, were flown back Friday by a special Air Canada flight arranged by the Canadian government to bring stranded citizens back home.

Robinson said he’s really grateful to the country. Originally, he hadn’t thought he and Widdicombe would be included on the initial flights.

The two woke up to the news last Thursday that the Peruvian president would be extending the nationwide quarantine. A few hours later, the Canadian embassy in Lima called to say they’d been selected for a Friday flight home.

The flights cost about $1,700 each, including a connecting flight to Lima from Cusco, where the two were staying.

Robinson said they met up with about 300 other Canadians to take a bus to the Cusco airport, and then flew to a Peruvian military base in Lima. From there they flew to Toronto.

Robinson said it’s “hard not to be totally grateful” to be back home.

Health measures were taken before, during and after the flights, he said.

Before getting on the plane in Cusco passengers had their temperatures taken and during the flights they were made to wear masks and given hand sanitizer regularly. Once they got to Canada they had to wait an hour on the tarmac until the customs area was empty.

“Customs was fairly fast. We had to sign an official document stating that we promise to self-quarantine for 14 days,” he said.

After that, passengers were left to themselves to get home.

“The responsibility there was that you self-quarantine when you get home. So those people can take a public bus or they can get a car home, but once they’re home they have to stay there for 14 days.”

Chelsea’s parents left a car at the airport for them, Robinson said, so they were separate from others for the entire time from the airport to back home.

Robinson is now staying at a house on Niagara Boulevard, courtesy of family friend and Niagara Jet Boats owner John Kinney. Widdicombe is staying at her apartment in St. Catharines.

Robinson commended the Canadian embassy for its quick response to getting Canadians out of the country.

“Global Affairs is not a logistics organization, it’s a policy organization, but they shifted in two weeks,” he said.

Robinson said that as of Saturday there were still about 1,400 Canadians stuck in Peru waiting to get home.