Backpackers make hard choice whether to stay or head home
BACKPACKERS in Byron Bay are left with the diabolical choice of whether to stay or go as the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to shut down international air travel.
Tobias Beyerle and Till Portugal, from Germany, were in the process of getting ready to leave with Mr Portugal already having booked his flights back.
“We were going to stay a bit longer in Australia but things have become very rough in Europe and we decided to go back now in a few days,” Mr Portugal said.
Mr Beyerle said he was still deciding whether to leave as quickly as possible or just stay one month longer in Sydney and work for a bit but said the conditions are getting even worse and the shops were closing.
He said two Danish women and one Frenchman had grabbed the first flights out of Australia.
“I’m just struggling right now on the phone to my family trying to figure out a solution as quick as possible.”
Jenna Kaleponis, from the United States, said she was staying after receiving a working visa.
She said the vibe had seen things slow down but everyone was being very normal with a positive attitude.
“We have a lot of student groups who are all being issued to go home and I heard talk in the kitchen this morning of people trying to sort out flights to Europe,” she said.
Get Toasted owner Paul Lockwood said it was very quiet and that numbers were definitely down on previous years.
“It is dead quiet down the street,” he said.
“It is just the number of people encouraged to stay home and that is having a devastating effect on us and other people in all works of life, not just hospitality.”
“Byron is just one town of many that is suffering at the moment – it is quite difficult.”
He said people were going home and not travelling as the government made it very clear that people shouldn’t be travelling from Australia and I think the similar message is people shouldn’t be travelling anywhere.”
Another shop owner said they had noticed Australians were choosing to visit Byron Bay as their flights had been cancelled, but said shops were still taking it day by day, and watching closely each announcement from the government.