Albertans abroad finally make it home amid COVID-19 crisis: 'It was utter relief'

WATCH ABOVE (March 24): The ongoing mission to repatriate stranded Canadians continues, as the federal government organizes flights to Peru. But as Ross Lord reports, rescuing everyone right away is proving impossible.

More than 10 days after the federal government urged Canadians to return home over novel coronavirus fears, many Albertans have finally made it back.

Sheila Ethier and a group of friends landed in Bucerias, Mexico at the end of January.

Originally, the group was scheduled to return home to Edmonton April 7 but calls from Canadian Foreign Affairs to come home cut their trip short.

“There wasn’t too much excitement but by Sunday, a lot of the restaurants had closed, there was this huge exodus of tourists.

“It was like a ghost town,” Ethier described.


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Ethier was then scheduled on a March 25 WestJet flight. Then WestJet announced it was suspending all international flights effective March 22.

The group struggled to get information on whether they would be able to return.

Finally, they got confirmation they would be on a repatriation flight to Calgary March 23.

“It was like utter relief.

“Immediately I was like, ‘Thank you Justin Trudeau. Thank you, WestJet,'” Ethier told Global News.

After an overnight layover, Ethier made it back to Edmonton on March 24.

The group is now in self-isolation for 14 days.

Ethier said while it was frustrating to be re-booked so many times, she understands how busy airlines and the federal government are. She’s just glad to be home.


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Two other Alberta families Global News has been in touch with have also made it back to Edmonton.

The Statt family cut their trip to Spain short and managed to fly to Amsterdam. There, they had three flights cancelled before finally making it on one back to Canada on March 21.

Judy Rausch was with a tour group in Morocco when the calls to come home were made. She was able to fly standby on Air France an hour before the federal government announced a repatriation flight to Morocco.

Any person returning to Canada from an international destination must self-isolate for 14 days.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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