COVID-19, travel restrictions threaten Minnesota couple’s wedding

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President Donald Trump announced new restrictions on European travel as the Italian government continues to take precautionary measures.

The country closed restaurants, hair salons and other businesses on Wednesday to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Italy is currently under lockdown.

The added restrictions could mean a Golden Valley couple won’t be able to attend their destination wedding.

“One day I’ll be really stressed about it, then he’ll be really stressed about it,” said Madelyn Shafer.

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She and her fiancé, Oleg Andreyev, told KSTP their Italian wedding was always about more than good food and drink. They got engaged in Rome, during a trip two years ago.

“Originally I wanted to wait for Tuscany but I just couldn’t wait,” said Andreyev, laughing.

Their wedding venue is a villa in Tuscany where they stayed during the trip.

“We loved the area so much we decided to take our family and friends,” said Shafer.

Coronavirus outbreak coverage

They told us about 60 guests have booked their trips, including some who are older and more at risk for COVID-19.

As their May wedding-date nears, the number of cases in Italy continues to grow.

“It was frightening to see the day-by-day number of cases and number of deaths go up,” said Andreyev. “It doesn’t just impact us, it impacts all of the attendees and their families.”

Many of their guests booked European vacations around the wedding. Even though major airlines like Delta and American Airlines are waiving fees to change plans, they told us not all of their guests are eligible.

Travel restrictions are also quickly changing.

According to the U.S. Embassy in Italy, the Italian Government implemented new screening policies on March 3 to prevent passengers from boarding U.S.-bound flights if their temperature is higher than 99.5 degrees.

On Wednesday, President Trump imposed travel restrictions from Europe for 30 days, starting on Friday.

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“If we are able to fly into Italy, are we going to be able to come back home?” said Andreyev.

They are waiting to see if conditions improve. The couple originally intended to decide based on whether the lockdown was lifted on April 3.

“We’re going to get married we just don’t know where or when,” said Andreyev.

Shafer said it’s happening in May, even if the wedding is at a courthouse here in Minnesota.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke to a travel advisor and manager for Travel Leaders in Stillwater, Ted Blank. He said many of their clients are concerned more about being quarantined after a trip than they are about COVID-19.

“Our offices have been absolutely crazy with phone calls,” said Blank.

He said it’s a combination of people looking to postpone their trip, ask questions, or even book a vacation while the prices are low.

“There’s actually probably the most flexibility I have ever seen right now,” said Blank. “So if you’re planning a trip in a few months, or even in six months, nine months, this is actually a great time to book it.”

He advises travelers to assess their own risk before going on a trip. Blank also suggests getting travel insurance, which will also provide coverage if they get sick while on vacation.

“I think this would be on par with some of the biggest disruptions we’ve had in travel,” said Blank. “If you look back at SARS if you look back at 9/11, I think there are some elements of that that are unfolding.”