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Coronavirus Kent: Rochester couple stranded in Bali amid Covid-19 lockdown

A couple stranded in Bali fear it could be months before they get a flight home as they begin quarantine from their hotel room.

Benjamin Stokes and his partner Yasmin Chadwick, from Rochester, arrived on the Indonesian island last week having travelled around South East Asia.

Benjamin Stokes and is partner Yasmin Chadwick are stranded in Bali
Benjamin Stokes and is partner Yasmin Chadwick are stranded in Bali

However, following the government's advice on Monday night the couple decided to cut short their journey and return home, booking a flight the same evening.

Shortly after Etihad airlines informed them their flight had been cancelled and they would be refunding their booking.

It came after the United Arab Emirates, which is home to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, announced it had all but closed its borders to travellers.

Now the sound engineer and his girlfriend say they are stranded in the resort village of Canggu with no clear route home.

He said: "Me and my partner Yasmin are stranded in Bali, Indonesia.

All flights via the United Arab Emirates have been cancelled
All flights via the United Arab Emirates have been cancelled

"There’s at least a few hundred Brits also in the exact same boat as us, with no flights home, as they keep getting cancelled or people turned away due to other countries closing up or not accepting passengers to transit in the airport.

"Others Brits I have been in contact with have told us how some of their flights have been cancelled and they’re being refused refunds and only flight vouchers, or being told refunds will take three months.

"We’re in desperate need of a flight home to then carry on following the UK government's advice to come home, not travel and self-isolate at all times."

Ben says attempts to contact the embassy or access flights were first scuppered by an Indonesian national holiday (Nyepi) and then a lockdown to contain the virus.

He said: "We're now in a position where we've been locked down for two days in our hotel room with no real clear and guaranteed route home.

"There are two options left for us to book, rather from Doha (with Qatar Airlines) or Tokyo (Japan Airlines) in which some of them are charging up to £1,600 each for a one way flight, bearing in mind average prices home should be £350 - £400.

"We're now in a position where we've been locked down for two days in our hotel room..."

"Flights are also available via Singapore but travel bans mean when people book these they risk not being able to board, and lose money as a result."

The couple, who are both self-employed, say they can't keep booking flights for fear of losing the money, or only being offered vouchers.

"We basically feel like our best course of action at the moment is to wait it out until we get a guaranteed flight route home, that's not causing us to eat into our savings."

Earlier this week Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government was trying to keep global travel routes open.

He said where commercial flights were not running, they would seek to ensure that special flights, where possible, can take people home.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised UK residents trapped abroad to check it's Indonesia Twitter account regularly for updates.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Picture: Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA Wire.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Picture: Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA Wire.

A spokesman said: “We recognise British tourists abroad are finding it difficult to return to the UK because ofthe unprecedented international travel and domestic restrictions thatare being introducedaround the world – often with very little or no notice.

“The FCO is working around the clock to support British travellers in this situation to allow them to come back to the UK.

"The government is seeking to keep key transit routes open as long as possible and is in touch with international partners and the airline industry to make this happen.

"Consular staff are supporting those with urgent need while providing travel advice and support to those still abroad.”

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