Like an 'apocalypse movie': Chch couple in Italy

Therese Mitchell and Brett MacDonald contemplate their ruined trip at Rome Fiumicino Airport. Photo: Supplied
Therese Mitchell and Brett MacDonald contemplate their ruined trip at Rome Fiumicino Airport. Photo: Supplied
A Christchurch couple are stranded at an airport in Italy after their tour group was told they cannot travel through Australia because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Worried Christchurch resident Therese Mitchell, who is in Rome with her husband Brett MacDonald, says "we need some urgent help".

"It's like being in an apocalypse movie, people look bewildered and very scared."

The tour group of 44 was supposed to be enjoying a 17-day tour of Rome, but their trip was cut short on the first day and they spent the next four nights confined to a hotel.

Italy has been in lockdown because of the Covid-19 epidemic, with the Italian prime minister urging people to stay indoors.

The group, which was on a TripADeal tour, were told they would be flying home early via Abu Dhabi and Sydney.

However, when they arrived at Rome-Fiumicino International Airport they were told the Australian government had refused to allow them to transit through Sydney, Mrs Mitchell said.

"So the Australian people went off to board, but the Kiwis were left bewildered and not knowing what to do next."

The Australian government banned foreign nationals from travelling to Australia from Italy on Wednesday.

Mrs and Mrs Mitchell have managed to book flights home via Doha at their own expense, but she said others could not afford to do the same and were stranded.

Tourists stranded at Rome Fiumicino Airport. Photo: Supplied
Tourists stranded at Rome Fiumicino Airport. Photo: Supplied
She is scared and says Italian police are approaching people to separate them if they are seen standing too close together. The threat of Covid-19 is also looming large on her mind.

The New Zealand Embassy has offered some advice, but Mrs Mitchell believes the government needs to do more and has called on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to speak with Australian officials.

"She has contact with the Australian PM, tell him to let our people come home.

"They don't want to stay, they just want to get on a plane and come home."

She says it is a very emotional time with many in the group, including Mrs Mitchell, breaking down in tears.

matthew.mckew@odt.co.nz

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