Owners of Norfolk restaurant stuck in Morocco due to coronavirus

Posted at 2:08 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 20:20:01-04

NORFOLK, Va. - "This is not our home; our home is in Norfolk, and we want to be with our family. We don't belong here," said Omar Boukriss.

Boukriss, owner of Omar's Carriage House, spoke to News 3 Tuesday from his native country of Morocco.

Boukriss and his wife are left stranded and frustrated.

"They have literally closed their borders to flights, traffic, maritime traffic - everything," said Boukriss.

He and his wife Imane went to Morocco in early March to visit Omar's father-in-law, who is in grave condition in hospice care.

"It is really hard. I lose sleep every night. Every day is a challenge," said Boukriss.

They are alone - 3,800 miles from their two children who were previously with them but literally got the last flight out on March 16 before the country closed its borders.

"It was an, ‘oh my gosh’ moment. When I saw that happen, I knew I'd be stuck a while in Morocco," he said.

They can only leave their home in Morocco for essentials; military and police line the streets.

"It is very scary driving through town. It’s like a scene from a movie," he explained. "It's lockdown after 6 p.m. - if you are caught outside, you go to jail," said Boukriss.

In addition, his wife - a cancer survivor - is in dire need of more medication.

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"As of this week, she has no more pills. She doesn't have treatment," he said.

The couple are two of more than 1,000 Americans locked in the country due to COVID-19. They have been calling government officials for the past week looking for answers as to when they could expect to return home.

"They are calling and telling me the exact same thing: That the State Department is working on it and doing their best," said Boukriss.

Back home in Norfolk, Omar's Carriage House, located in the Freemason District, is still open, offering Moroccan favorites to go for longtime customers.

"We are very lucky to have followers. We will do it as long as we can," he said.

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