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Expats, how are you doing?


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Living outside your passport country has made coronavirus more complicated for some people.  I know some expats are permanently settled elsewhere, but others are more temporary and nearly all of us have family who’s far away.  

I have a growing number of friends who are going to be separated from immediate family members for a long time.  And there’s the uncertainty about whether to go back to your passport country, or if you even can get there if you want to.  And some people will be forced to go back, even if they don’t want to.  

How is corona affecting you?

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We are in Belgium. We brought our university kids home from the Netherlands and am feeling very fortunate to be under the same roof. They are struggling to do their group projects and exams from home still. The professors haven't quite figured out how to move to online yet but are making significant efforts to do so soon. They have both commented on how homeschooling prepared them well for this, but I feel bad that they were finally away in school and had to come back abruptly. I know this is a small sacrifice to make. 

We had to cancel a trip for next week to the States to see family and visit a property that we've recently purchased for our retirement home. Hopefully we can reschedule it for June, but who knows if that will be possible either. 

I canceled the rest of our co-op meetings for the year. Our friends who are homeschoolers are carrying on like normal with school at least, but the kids are seeing that everyone else is off school. Haha. We have enough food for a while. My husband is working alternate weeks, at least that is the plan now. This could change suddenly I suspect. 

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I’m so glad you can be with your university kids!  Ours are in the US, but bringing them to where we live isn’t a possibility. They’re near extended family though, and better off there than here. 

I’m sorry about your trip.  😞 

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I am currently on a visit to the States and am now unsure about when to return to Jerusalem. We have a home in a rural area of VA, hours away from our former place, which is where 2 of my kids and my friends are, and where I stayed last week. I had to leave the home in which I was staying because my host had family coming in for the weekend. Anyway...

If I return to Israel early, I will have to self-quarantine for two weeks. Airlines are cutting flights by as much as 75 percent in April so I am thinking it may be hard to get back later. I don't know what to do. 

Life in JTown and the surrounding West Bank has been hard. No tourists, no entertainment or restaurants open...so waiters, cooks, tour guides, tour bus drivers, hotel personnel and the like are all being let go or at least not being paid. Shopkeepers are struggling. School has been closed a while already. No church, Dome of the Rock and Al-Asqa closed (Holy Sep is open). Nat'l parks closed and no gatherings over 10 people. 

My husband is saying the cathedral will tell people to stay home next week; this week they get off at 2pm. That may change as Israel is thinking of shutting all businesses. Idk how that would even work. 

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Colombia here.  We are OK. We live in a huge rural subdivision, with tons of fresh air in our house, which I believes is a big plus for our health.  Beginning yesterday, the only people who can enter Colombia legally are Colombian Citizens who live in Colombia, and Aliens like me, who are living in Colombia legally and those people are subject to a 14 day quarantine when they return to Colombia.  If people violate the quarantine, they are subject to jail/prison/humongous fines. And if a tourist, etc., violates the quarantine,  deportation and a 7 year ban. Tourists really cannot enter Colombia at this time and if they do, the 14 day quarantine.

DD is a Dual Citizen (USA and Colombia) and uses whichever passport is appropriate, when leaving/entering one of those countries. Under the new emergency regulations, my DW told me DD cannot come here in May.  She is a Colombian Citizen, with a valid Colombian Passport, but she is attending a university in the states (Carolina or UNC) and is living there now, so although she is a Colombian Citizen, my wife thinks she might not be admitted to Colombia at this time, because she is living in the dorm at UNC.

According to an email from the ACS (American Citizen Services) in the U.S. Embassy that I received last night, the Colombian government says there are some additional cases of COVID-19 here. Thankfully, I don't believe there have been any deaths so far. The schools are closed until April 20th (?) and at least where we live, there are not supposed to be more than 10 people in a group. We were under curfew from 11 P.M. last night until 5 A.M. this morning. I need to ask DW if she knows when that will end.

I am elderly so under more restrictions. For example, I was going to go Thursday morning to pick up results of Lab tests but my DW says I shouldn't go there as planned.  

This is the really wonderful news:  I do not have the words to thank God that our DD is at Carolina (UNC). That was a blessing for her, before the COVID-19 emergency, which I never considered when she was applying to universities. Their response to the COVID-19 Virus was IMO a huge improvement over what many other universities have done to their students. Especially to their International Students and to Overseas Americans, who share much in common with International Students. The roommate of DD is an International Student and she cannot go home in May either.  

I think DD told DW that if necessary, she can stay in NC with friends. This is all brand new and developing day by day, with lots of changes in the regulations here and also in the USA. Hopefully if DD stays in NC for the Summer, she can continue in her job at UNC, but work more hours, and/or get another job.

I guess you can say that we are under quarantine or at least that we are  restricting activities.  

DD is in her normal dorm and can stay there until  May when the semester is over. The Dining Halls (at least some of them) are open but the workers give the food to the customers, instead of them getting the food from a Buffet.   That helps tremendously.

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I am not an expat, but I happened to be in Austria as all of this is taking place.  My daughter was beginning graduate school here and I was here to help her get her apartment set up while I was on spring break.  My original plans had been to fly back on Sunday.  I decided to stay put.  I was concerned about encountering crowds and chaos.  I did not want to get stuck somewhere along my travel route, not being able to return to Austria or get to my final destination in the US.  (I contacted Delta about a flight change and was in their messaging queue for over 48 hours!)

An hour after DD attended her first class, she received an email that the university was moving to online instruction.  Leaving would have meant leaving her in a somewhat empty apartment, navigating her way through a first semester in grad school without knowing a single other student in her classes, and being fairly isolated.  She does know some people here.  The good news is that they are medical professionals (if she really needs something); but the bade news is they are medical professionals who do not have any time to interact with her right now.  Leaving also meant that should she get sick, or just feeling terribly isolated, we might not be able to get to her from the US easily.  

DH is in the states with our DS who is college-aged.  I was torn about whom I should be with.  I also have an elderly mother in the states who I had not told I was coming over for a short trip because she would worry, but I am on the verge of having to let her know where I am before she finds out from someone else.  I learned that my aunt died yesterday (she had been ill for a long time and "wouldn't make it through the night" for since before Thanksgiving--so it wasn't corona related or a surprise), and it does feel odd that I can't easily get back if I wanted to.  Although, I do not know what the situation will be; she was from a small town where the entire town shows up for visitation at the funeral home, for the funeral service, fort he burial, and at someone's home afterwards for a meal--I don't know that they will be able to do that.

I am a college professor whose university will be implementing online teaching for the next two weeks (at least); I can do that from here as easily as I could have from the US.  So, I am busy preparing course materials.  DD and I had gone to IKEA before we were on lockdown, so we also have bookcases, shelving units, and chairs to assemble this week.  

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We are healthy and well-supplied, and the country has taken great measures to encourage self-isolation.  The hardest thing, for the moment, is not knowing when we will ever see the American side of the family again.  We are lucky to live in an age of video calls and similar, but of course it isn't quite the same.  My biggest fear is having something happen to my parents and not being able to get to them.  My brother would be there for them, but I would hate to have serious and difficult things happening without being able to help.  

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Belgium just announced lockdown starting noon tomorrow until April 5. We are supposed to stay home except to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, post office, bank, or gas station. People can go to work if they can not telecommute. The work part I find unclear, but it should be more clear tomorrow. You can go outside to exercise but only with family members that live under the same roof. 

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Posted (edited)

Flights in and out of Egypt will end tomorrow, for the most part.  We aren’t planning to leave, but we have friends who are trying to leave but probably won’t be able to. 

Whether to “go home” or not has been the big question among many of the expats I know.  Most of my friends are serial expats, rather than making a new home in another country for years, so we’re only in our host countries for a few years. But I also don’t have a place to return to in the US, if we did want to go back.  I wouldn’t feel comfortable staying with family, and the idea of staying in a hotel for months isn’t that lovely either, especially with just our one carry-on each, because that’s the most we could fly out with.

Edited by Amira
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We are in Montenegro.  We have settled here but our grown children (mid 20s and up) all live in the US.  In Feb. my husband wanted to go the US to take care of some business for his mother (who currently lives with us).  I *strongly urged* him not to go--not for fear of him getting sick at the time, but for not being able to get back.  He acquiesced only to keep me happy but now admits I was right.  (I wish I wasn't but....)

While we technically can enter the US as we are US citizens, there is no way to get there at the moment--Zero flights or other transportation in/out of the country as all borders are closed except for goods. Even though I didn't have plans to go visit this spring or summer, it bothers me that I *can't* go especially if one of my kids get sick.....  I always thought I could just hop on a plane and be there within 24 hours.....

While not on total lockdown, most everything here is closed or restricted at the moment.  Very grateful for the sunshine this week as it makes it pleasant to be in the backyard.  Next week, when cold and rainy, we will all be stuck indoors.....

 

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We’re doing okay. Still a few commercial flights coming in and out but restricted to residents arriving. Those will end soon we think due to lack of demand. Kids are home. Social distancing is being strongly encouraged but we’re not at shutdown yet. Concerned about our healthcare options if we get sick so trying hard to avoid that. One kid in Europe doing okay self isolating in their apartment. One kid at university in the US who was supposed to fly here then borders closed so is now with a sibling in the US. Big kids out of jobs as they had service industry work paying the bills so I expect we’ll be supporting them for a while. 
 

I’m getting the house ready in case we are evacuated at short notice. 
 

 

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My DS25 is an expact living in the Netherlands. He is in grad school and scheduled to graduate in May.

He is now in Portugal with his girlfriend and her family. If he would have stayed in the NL, he would have been very alone. We always felt secure knowing that we have a lot of close friends in Denmark to help him out of necessary. Once Denmark closed its borders, we started to worry about him being in a foreign country without anyone who actually loves him or cares about him. 
 

We debated bringing him back to the US but that is complicated, too. Time will tell if we have made the right decision. He might still have to come back here eventually.

Edited by Penguin
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Just offering huge hugs for everyone torn between locations and family members/people you love separated from you right now. I never could have imagined the current situation. 

 

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I'm not currently an expat but have been, so I'm always interested in the lives of expats.  And wow, you all must have so much to think about and navigate!  I wish the very best for all of you!  

One of my dd's is currently going to graduate school in France (she has lived there for almost four years now, so France is really her home now).  It sounds like France has a shelter-in-place type policy now.  She's doing fine, and we talk often.  We're not worried about her.  She has a good support network and speaks French fluently so she seems to be managing fine.  About a week before this all blew up, she booked tickets to fly back to the US for a visit in July.  We'll see if that happens...

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The situation for DD at Carolina was fine until yesterday. Then, they posted this: "One UNC-Chapel Hill employee has tested presumptively positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating at home in accordance with guidelines set by the state health department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control."

which also resulted in this: " Residence halls are closing to the majority of students for the rest of the academic year. Students currently on campus are encouraged to move out as soon as possible and no later than 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 21. Campus Housing will send more information to on-campus residents. Students with special circumstances may apply for a waiver to stay on campus. All other students should remain at or return to their permanent off-campus residence."

DD applied for the Waiver yesterday and I am praying to God and thinking good thoughts and have my fingers crossed.

Plan B is probably for DD to return here and do the 14 day quarantine.   Although American and Delta have suspended their services to Colombia, SPIRIT AIRLINES has a very low base fare now so if DD needs to come home, we will pay for the Base Fare and (hopefully) the "Big Front Seats" and at least 2 checked bags.  Fortunately, unlike most airlines, SPIRIT AIRLINES is in extremely good financial shape and can continue operations, without problems.

I am not sure where she would store her Bedding and Refrigerator and Parka and other stuff, before clearing her dorm room on Saturday afternoon. Hopefully, if necessary, all of this will work out, but praying to God that Carolina will issue the Waiver to DD.

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1 hour ago, OKBud said:

Same here, guys! It's hard having beloveds in other states, I can only imagine overseas!

Quill, did your DD come home? (sorry if I missed it)

She’s in the air, headed for Washington Dulles International. Should be here this evening, Thanks for asking. 

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Thanks for starting this thread.  We are in Jerusalem, Israel for the first half of this year while my husband teaches at a university here.  We are doing fine, although as Chris in VA said, nearly everything in Israel is closed and we are now under a 'voluntary lockdown' that is almost certainly going to become involuntary any moment now.  

I am very much missing our house with a yard, not to mention all of our stuff and my homeschooling materials, but this apartment is more than adequate and we very much recognize how fortunate we are.  In some ways I'm happy to be here, because Israel seems more on top of the whole situation than the US and I am cautiously hopeful that we'll get through the worst of the crisis faster here, but I fret about family (esp my parents) and friends back home. 

We haven't really considered returning to the US early, even though -- if there were flights -- it would be theoretically possible now that DH's university has gone to online classes.   For one thing, friends are living in our house, and other friends have our car.  And we would be keeping away from my parents anyway for fear of getting them sick.  I guess we are also hoping that things here in Israel improve enough before we leave that we can have some semblance of life outside the house again.  We have actually only been out of Jerusalem once since we arrived in early January -- the weather was just awful for the first two months and the kids were constantly sick.  Then things started to get just a little bit better, and boom!  Worldwide pandemic and everyone is confined to their homes.  You just never know what is coming next, that's for sure.  

DH is on a yearlong visa but the kids and I have visas that expire on April 2.  We were supposed to renew them later this month, with the help of DH's employer.  The Ministry of the Interior is closed, though, and DH's employer has said that we just have to wait until they reopen to apply for renewals, even if the visas expire.  I am a little concerned about this -- Israel just today shut borders entirely to noncitizens (Chris, not sure what this means for you -- there is a loophole for noncitizens whose "center of life" is in Israel) -- but OTOH there's no reason to deport us and there aren't any flights anyway.

We are supposed to return to the States at the end of of July and I only hope that things are more 'normal' by then.  I guess we just have to wait and see, like the rest of the world.  

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We're in Grenada. 

No confirmed cases in Grenada yet, but there are a few in islands nearby. It will be here soon. It may already be. We're acting like it is.

The American medical school here, which is the largest employer, has sent all its students back to the U.S. This was major. We always have some students renting from us. We have a small family-run  hotel.

So far, we've had to let two of our employees go. Everyone else has had cut-backs in days and hours. We anticipate having to close down our hotel and lose all our income by the end of the month. This is the most devastating part. Then we have to dip into our savings and that will be the hard part. It may take several months. It may take a few years. We're headed towards a Depression, I believe. We've been getting cancellations galore. When there's an economic downturn, tourism is the last thing on people's minds. 

My parents, who live a few minutes away from us, are self-quarantining. We usually see them almost every day, now it's just phone calls and Facetime.

We'e worried for our son, since he has viral-induced asthma.

On a less important note, we were meant to travel this June. We've canceled that. We lost all our money on the flights, but we can't do anything about that. I worry about the long-term financial impact, not just for ourselves, but for everyone. 

I get very little sleep and it's all disruptive - full of nightmares. I believe that crime and mayhem will be on the rise in many places. I hope that I'm wrong. The longer this drags on for, the worse it will get. I hate all the selfish people who are out and about and not practicing social distancing. They're the ones who are making it worse for everyone. 

I am delighted and so proud of my country for issuing a strict travel advisory. God bless them. Everyone arriving to the country will be screened and quarantined for 14 days. This is beautiful. I wish that all countries had started to do this much sooner. 

Praying for protection for all. We need to trust in God more than ever before.

 

 

 

Edited by Negin
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I just want to send all of you hugs!  All I can say is we were overseas for a dozen years.  A volcano canceled travel once but I never expected something like this.  I always functioned with it’s a plane ride away!

My family is currently back in the US......when my kids decided that they wanted to go to grad school in the US we all moved because the sun sounded wonderful to all of us.  My kids were pleased that we decided to join them but are incredibly grateful now!  Universities in the U.K. have now closed and their friends are all scrambling to get home today.  One has an international roommate who can no longer book a flight out that actually departs.....the email was long and complicated.......so the roommate is going home with the friend.

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DD in Switzerland sent me this.  We're talking about what she should bring home, what she can stash there, and what to do with the three baroque harps currently sheltering in place in her room.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/19/coronavirus-travel-advisory-level-four-137227

We'll cross the how to get her home bridge when they actually go to level 4.  I'm someone who truly believes in having a plan b, but this one is tough to plan.

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Prayers answered!   2 or 3 days ago, an employee of "Carolina" (UNC-CH) was presumed to be Positive for COVID-19.  Today is Thursday, so  that was 2 days ago, Tuesday afternoon.  "Carolina" wrote that unless one applied for and received a Waiver, they would need to vacate the Dorm by Saturday afternoon.

Here in Colombia, there was a Decree, I think last night, that starting on Sunday (?) there will not be International flights arriving in Colombia for 30 days. They are closing our airports to International flights to prevent more people from bring COVID-19 from Europe and other places.

DD is an "Overseas American" but she has a lot in common with the International Students.

Our prayers to God have been answered and we are beyond deeply grateful to Carolina.  🙂

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6 minutes ago, Lanny said:

Prayers answered!   2 or 3 days ago, an employee of "Carolina" (UNC-CH) was presumed to be Positive for COVID-19.  Today is Thursday, so  that was 2 days ago, Tuesday afternoon.  "Carolina" wrote that unless one applied for and received a Waiver, they would need to vacate the Dorm by Saturday afternoon.

Does that mean your dd is sheltering in place? 

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MIT closed on Sunday, so we had to make the decision for ds to stay in the US or come home a week ago.  My sister offered to take him in for 5 months, which was lovely, but ds was worried about not knowing anyone at all in the area. So we got him on a flight ASAP.  It felt SOOOOO rushed, but I'm glad that the university made the hard call early, as ds could still get a flight back.  Main problem is getting back to the US if classes resume in September. 

AirNZ has cancelled all flights until 30 June, so our trip to visit family in America is now on hold. My parents and MIL live independently and are self isolating so I don't think they will get it. So we should be OK to not visit even though they are in their 80s and 90s. My grandmother has been in hospice for a month, and if she goes, I said my goodbyes last year. 

It sounds like NZ is still one of the few countries with no community spread.  28 cases all linked to overseas travel, and all contact traced putting 3000 extra people in self isolation. I'm not clear on the ramifications of this.  If we can actually stop it, do we just hang out in NZ for 18 months until the vaccine?.  The rest of the world will get it, some will die, and then the rest get herd immunity.  Plus, with no tourists, 20% of our economy just evaporated. Clearly an economic Depression is coming. 

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32 minutes ago, CAJinBE said:

Does that mean your dd is sheltering in place? 

Yes. Her Waiver Request  was approved by "Carolina" (UNC-CH) and she can continue to live in her Dorm there. Prayers answered.

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That State Department warning is ... awfully vague and not helpful.  I mean, I can see the merits of telling people who have presumably been living under a rock (or wherever Jared Leto was) for the last 2 weeks not to travel internationally, but "US citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period."?  What kind of advice is that?   What am I supposed to do with that? 

I mean, I'm all for advising Americans currently in the US not to travel, and I can certainly see the government saying hey, heads-up, if things get dicey where you are we aren't going to fly you out, but this is just not useful.  And i am really not looking forward to the forty emails in my inbox tomorrow morning from various friends and family asking me about this.

I can't imagine why we'd leave now.  DH has a job to do, and so far the pandemic management here has been much better than back home.  But we are not staying "indefinite[ly]".  At some point we are going to pack up, get on a plane, show up at a US airport, and eventually we will have to be allowed to enter.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Amira said:

It’s level 4 now. 

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/travel-advisory-alert-global-level-4-health-advisory-issue.html

But that doesn’t automatically mean to fly back to the US, if you’re a US citizen.  Staying where you are can be a valid option too.

I was coming on here to ask you exactly this, Amira. Does it mean that if you don't come home now, don't expect help from the state department later?

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From the Level 4 statement:

U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel.  Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice.  

and:

If you decide to travel abroad or are already outside the United States:

Consider returning to your country of residence immediately using whatever commercial means are available.

Have a travel plan that does not rely on the U.S. Government for assistance.

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27 minutes ago, Penguin said:

@mumto2 I didn’t realize that you were now permanently in the US

 The plan was to go back to the U.K. at the end of April.  I really don’t think that will be happening now.

28 minutes ago, Penguin said:
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NZ put out a similar call on Monday to have all kiwis return home.  Basically, those travelling and studying seem to be getting back in any way they can.  But NZ is also talking about chartering flights to rescue people who are stranded. 

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5 hours ago, Penguin said:

I was coming on here to ask you exactly this, Amira. Does it mean that if you don't come home now, don't expect help from the state department later?

Well, you can’t ever expect much help from the State Department anyway.  There’s really very little they can do, even in an emergency. And a worldwide emergency is different, and completely unprecedented. There had never even been a global level three warning before.  State is figuring this out too. And many embassies are still functioning somewhat normally, and haven’t gone down to emergency operations. 

I don’t speak for State in any way nor am I trying to give advice to anyone, but I think it’s reasonable to interpret this more as a travel thing, rather than an expat thing. This is a travel warning.  If you’re not ready and willing to stay where you are, and many expats want to stay where they are, then get back to the US ASAP while it might still be possible.  But even more important, don’t travel from the US!  Really, don’t.  The only possible exception I can think of is maybe to try to rejoin your minor children living outside the US (and there are lots of people in that situation).

Canada also issued this warning a few days ago, but Canadians haven’t all been able to get out of this country, and not all wanted to anyway.  Canada isn’t evacuating Canadians all over the world.

I do think the travel warning is necessary.  I can’t believe that I continue to hear about people trying to travel.

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Dd and her cohort are "strongly encouraged" to leave, but she and the others are going to stay.  Dh and I both think that is a better choice for her.  She's been in her room for 6 days, the country is locked down, she has food, cleaning supplies, internet, and harps.

Edited by Harpymom
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13 hours ago, Penguin said:

I was coming on here to ask you exactly this, Amira. Does it mean that if you don't come home now, don't expect help from the state department later?

 

The messages I receive from DoS (or read on the web)   say DO NOT expect help from DoS in returning to the USA, now, or later. Many of their staff ("non-essential") have returned to the USA, so the Embassies and Consulates are running with fewer employees to do a huge amount of work.

We live in Colombia, but this may be typical of what many countries are doing or will soon do.  In a few days, I think starting next Monday (today is Friday) all International flights will be cancelled for 30 days.  I just received a sad email from our "Flag" airline (Avianca) explaining that their International flights will be suspended for about 5 weeks and most of their Domestic flights will also be suspended during that time.

 

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There is a long list of carriers that are no longer operating out of Brussels including Delta. There are Americans already stranded in some countries that State is trying to get back home but they are swamped. I believe they are trying to get more people to stop traveling. It would be hard to get out of Belgium even if we wanted to. They are also not doing any but the most urgent passport applications. 

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Flights stopped here yesterday and stranded some people. I have another friend who is stranded in Canada and wants to get back to her children.  

Another reason not to travel is that you really, really don’t want to get COVID19 in certain countries. If you test positive, you’ll go into the government system and that isn’t something you want to do because adequate care isn’t possible.  Seriously, if at all possible, just get where you can ride this out and stay put.

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Bumping this one back up, since there are far more travel restrictions than a few days.  We have expat friends trying to return to their passport country on chartered flights, and it’s almost impossible to find a route back since so many countries won’t allow flights to go through.  I’m hearing stories of itineraries that might take five days with four layovers to get to some smaller US airports.  There weren’t enough flights out before the airports closed for everyone to leave, and they’ll be closed here for at least three more weeks.

We’re still fine and there’s still food in the grocery stores. Our children in the US are okay too.  How are you all doing?

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Still doing okay here in lockdown. Grocery stores are still operating but there are restrictions on how many people can go in at a time. The rules about going outside for exercise are still vague and the police are asking for clarification. We expect an announcement tomorrow from the Belgian government that will extend the lockdown period and clarify or further restrict our ability to go outside. The police are asking for a one hour and one kilometer radius from home limit. I guess I might be walking in circles soon. There have been 220 deaths so far out of one 6000 confirmed cases. Anyone coming into the country is supposed to self-quarantine for two weeks. On a 90 minute walk today I only saw one airplane and it was very high so I think it was just passing over. There are very few flights operating out of Brussels. 

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Here in Colombia, we are fine. We are under a lot of severe restrictions, so we have "cabin fever", but more importantly, we are fine. All international flights, and also, I think the majority of domestic flights, have been cancelled.  The younger people are under what I would call "House Arrest" in English, until I believe 13 April 2020.   I am over 70 years old, so I am in the group that has "House Arrest" until May 31st.   I always enjoyed going on my errands, to pay bills and to shop, but I am truly grateful for the protection the Colombian government has imposed on those of us who are elderly.  One person from our house can go to the supermarket, or on other errands. They have a new thing in place for entrance into the supermarkets, depending upon the date and the last number of the persons "Cedula" (national identity card).  I think there is a curfew from about 11 P.M. to 6 A.M.  ?    No gatherings of more than 10 people. No cruise ships are permitted to visit our ports.  Something I had never seen before, in a message from the U.S. Embassy. 1 or 2 days ago, in an email, they announced a "Humanitarian" flight, from Bogota to Houston Intercontinental. I think it will be on March 28th.  United Airlines will operate it and anyone (U.S. Citizens and their immediate families) interested can call United Airlines, to make reservations and  to pay for the flight from BOG to IAH. A lot of the same types of things that are being done in some/many places in the USA, but here, the President issues a decree at night and what he says is imposed when he says it will be imposed.

My Stepson is now doing the bill paying and grocery shopping and I believe he needs to wear a mask when he does that.

Not sure about the restaurants being open or closed, but I think most of them are closed or pickup/take out as in the USA. We are in a Tropical Valley, so most of the places here are "open air" and I suspect/believe that is better for our health.

The schools are closed until May?  

The last I heard, which was 1 or 2 days ago, from my wife, there had been three (3) deaths in Colombia from the COVID-19 Coronavirus. I hope there are not any more. I believe all of them were caused by people who had been in Spain and other countries in Europe.

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We're in Montenegro which has pretty severe restrictions.  No problem with that.  We live here, so had no desire to return to the States (and honestly, couldn't).  But, daughter and son-in-law now have Covid-19, and it bothers me greatly that I *can't* just hop on a plane and be there.  Fortunately they were already both WAH and know how they got it.  It hurts my heart.

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All of this makes me think how things have changed in the last 20 or 30 years for expats.  You used to move somewhere else and not return to your passport country for a very long time, with only letters for communication.  Remember aerogrammes?  Now we’re used to being able to get on a plane when we need to, and having instant communication.  We still have the communication, fortunately, but honestly, I never really thought through a scenario where flights would be basically shut down worldwide.  Things have moved so fast. 

This article about the US trying to get some of its citizens back is interesting. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/us-diplomats-race-to-get-americans-home-while-they-can/2020/03/26/37351882-6f84-11ea-96a0-df4c5d9284af_story.html

Millions of US citizens live outside of the country. Just 1% of them needing help getting back to the US overwhelms the system. Even .1% does.  And the more airports you have to pass through to return to your passport country, the more difficult it gets.

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Update from us: Flights in and out ended last weekend. Country mostly locked down. We’re teleworking and staying home. Our main worry is getting sick in a country with sub-par healthcare. 
 

We’re working non-stop to repatriate whoever wants/needs to. It sounds simple but it’s a giant negotiation between host country and airlines, airports and customs, health authorities and security issues. And it’s a massive effort reaching out to citizens to make sure everyone knows about possible flights (or more likely flight, singular). Everyone is literally working round the clock. We thought about leaving, too, but we’ve decided to stay as air travel is risky and our US home is very rural with few nearby medical resources that we predict will be completely overwhelmed. 
 

Older kids hanging in. Laying low. 

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Israel has been mostly shut down for a while but now we are prohibited from going more than 100 meters from home except for very limited reasons.  El Al has cancelled all flights through April 4.  Israel is repatriating small groups of citizens from all over the world and quarantining them in designated hotels.

The kids and my visas will expire this coming week but the ministry is shut and there's nothing to do but sit tight until they reopen.  

The prohibition on outdoor exercise is hard on everyone but we are incredibly fortunate and feel very safe here.  I am having some trouble managing my anxiety and anger about what is happening back in the US, though.

 

 

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Belgian lockdown has been extended from 5 April to 19 April (the end of the Easter holidays). They may extend it again if necessary. No other restrictions have been imposed, just no more warnings before fines for being out. I'm not surprised. I really expected something stricter. 

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Any updates? My expat kiddo has left Portugal (for many and various reasons) and returned to the Netherlands. He is currently self-isolating and working on his grad school thesis. 

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