Turks and Caicos closed its borders in March to stop the spread of the coronavirus, stranding tourists who were visiting the islands.
The territory ended its lockdown on Wednesday, allowing tourists James Ohliger and Romane Recalde to return home to New York City after five months.
The Turks and Caicos economy is almost entirely dependent on US tourism, and the lockdown is estimated to have cost the territory $22 million a month.
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James Ohliger and Romane Recalde traveled to the Turks and Caicos Islands in March for a five-day vacation.
But when the local government decided to close its borders until July in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the couple's five-day trip turned into a five-month quarantine.
During this time, many Turks and Caicos businesses that rely on tourism have suffered.
"The island is completely dead," Ohliger, cofounder of Jerry Media, told Business Insider Today. "All the reservations canceled. The beach is basically a private beach for us and everything shut down."
The Turks and Caicos Islands, which saw over 1.5 million tourists in 2019, is expected to lose $22 million a month because of the lockdown. The islands' economy is based almost entirely on tourism, particularly from the United States.
Ohliger, who has traveled there for the past 33 years, said it's been hard to see so many people out of work. His friend, Kamario Smith, normally works as a bartender at the Ocean Club Resort on the island of Providenciales, and called the impact "very, very devastating."
The couple plans to return to New York on July 22, the day Turks and Caicos reopens its borders.
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