Honeymooners Stranded in the Maldives During Coronavirus Pandemic

The South African couple has been in the Maldives since March 22.


Image via Getty/DEA / M. BORCHI


While many have been sequestered in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, one couple is stuck on an eternal vacation in the Maldives.

The South African couple, Olivia and Raul De Freitas, headed to the country on March 22 for a 6-day honeymoon. Olivia told The New York Times that the holiday is “an extravagance” for them, as she is a teacher and her husband is a butcher.

While they had some uncertainties about the vacation amid intensifying travel restrictions, their travel agent reassured them that they would be able to get back home—so they went on the trip. But by March 25, South Africa announced that its airports would be closed by midnight the next day. Even if the couple were to scramble and try to catch a flight, multiple layovers meant it would take them hours to make it back home. Around the same time, the Maldives also announced it would be shuttering its airports and prohibiting new foreign travelers so the couple decided to stay.

When they contacted the South African Consulate in the Maldives and the South African Embassy in Sri Lanka for help, a representative notified them of the 40 other South Africans who were also stranded in the Maldives. The only choice they had would be to pay for a chartered jet home, which would run them $104,000. Everyone would share the cost, but the government had only gotten spoken with half of the 40—and after ongoing discussions between South Africa and the Maldives, the flight hadn’t yet been authorized. South Africa’s lockdown only supposedly ends on April 16.

By March 29, the couple were the last remaining guests at their resort, which takes up the entirety of one island—and where room rates begin at $750 a night. The full staff—performers, waiters, hostesses, chefs—remained on the island because of the couple; government procedure also requires that Maldivians undergo a quarantine after the last guests leave.

There have been less than two dozen total reported cases in the Maldives; most of the people who were infected have now recovered.

Though the couple is getting a discounted rate, staying there has become a financial hardship—and they might have to pay thousands of dollars for a private jet. “Everyone says they want to be stuck on a tropical island, until you’re actually stuck,” Mrs. De Freitas told The Times. “It only sounds good because you know you can leave.”

On Sunday, the couple was told that they were being sent by speedboat to another five-star resort, where other South Africans—around two dozen in total—were being centralized. The South African government said it would subsidize a big part of the cost to stay there.

It is unclear when the couple will be able to return home. The staff from their original hotel—who are still being paid—have been told that they have to stay at the hotel for two weeks after the guests’ departure.

Twitter, of course, had a field day with this story.

The way this story is told tells on itself. https://t.co/p8ZIE3qGkd

— Saeed, Or The Other One (@theferocity) April 5, 2020

I’m in awe that a butcher and a teacher could afford a honeymoon in the Maldives ??????????? Most unequal country in the world 😭 https://t.co/0y0r0gyTu1

— willing buyer willing sfebe™️ (@dr_nxledi) April 5, 2020

I was wondering why #Maldives is trending. This is pathetic. This couple decided to go on their honeymoon well aware that corona was a global issue. Now they’re stuck and the resort staff has to stay there just for them... #TypicalColonizers https://t.co/YsimI68Std

— Mahogany Shannon (@MahoganyShannon) April 5, 2020

They aren’t the ‘last couple’. There are people (not mentioned by name) WAITING on them who cannot leave until this couple does & who need to go into quarantine. But can’t. But plse, more about this poor, poor, selfish couple being waited on hand & foot. https://t.co/UJYHTUpAGS

— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) April 5, 2020

I don’t feel sorry for the couple stuck in Maldives.... I’m still confused on how a butcher and a teacher can afford a luxurious honeymoon w/ private staff, chef etc., but it ain’t my business pic.twitter.com/QiSatfaB5E

— Lucy_Deville 🇧🇸 (@ISLANDCHULA28) April 5, 2020

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