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Birmingham couple faces travel difficulties due to Omicron variant

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 3:21 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - One Birmingham couple and their friend faced some stressful days this week. Due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, they were looking at being stranded in North Africa.

It was supposed to be a fun vacation on a conference visit to Morocco. The fun disappeared when they realized Omicron was going to keep them from coming home this weekend.

Brenda Harrell, her husband Jason Heberling and their friend Teresa Huggins were having a good time seeing the sights of Marrakesh. but their enjoyment became serious with a sudden announcement about the spread of the Omicron variant. “We turned on the news. It says the king has announced as of midnight Monday, the next day, no incoming flights were allowed,” Harrell said.

The folks from Birmingham got on phone with the American Embassy looking for help. They hoped to take a ferry out of the country, but ferries were also canceled. This caused everyone to feel anxious. “We were genuinely afraid of what the implications of two weeks or more. We got family at home. We got pets at home. We got jobs at home,” Heberling said.

Eventually, the Embassy told them to try to get on Air France, which was flying out their citizens to Paris. They managed to find some plane seats, creating a great sense of relief. “I will be honest with you. We didn’t believe it until we were physically on the plane and that plane actually lifted off,” Heberling said.

As for future foreign trips? “We are not planning on any international travel at least through next year. Possibly longer than that. We will travel within the United States but no more international travel.” Teresa Huggins said.

They will be flying home this weekend. They are all fully vaccinated, and said the American Embassy was great with helping them. They will tell you this wasn’t because of any political upheaval, it was just an unfortunate impact of the pandemic.

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