GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Nearly four dozen Nicaraguans stranded in Guatemala by pandemic travel restrictions for about four months said Saturday that they finally received approval from Honduras to cross its territory in a bid to return to their home country.

Many Central American nations shut their borders in March to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

The group of 46 Nicaraguans had been studying or working in Guatemala and started to travel home but got stuck at the Guatemala-Honduras border at Corinto.

About 33 of the Nicaraguans slept outside for a week at the border crossing while they awaited permission to enter Honduras, which lies between Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Nicaraguan judo athlete Sayra Laguna said Saturday that Honduras finally authorized them to cross.

But the condition — that they first be tested for coronavirus — came with a sad detail: Nine of the Nicaraguans tested positive and were taken for treatment.

The group said it had not received help from Nicaraguan authorities in their long attempt to return home.

Laguna said that may have been because she unfurled a banner at an awards ceremony in 2018 referring to protests that year against the Nicaraguan government.

Starting in April 2018, Nicaragua’s economy was devastated by nearly five months of unrest initially sparked by cuts to social security benefits but which quickly evolved into calls for President Daniel Ortega to step down and allow early elections. At least 325 people were killed in the protests, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.