As rules loosen, travelers head to US for emotional reunions – Delco Times

By JOHN LEICESTER and TRAVIS LOLLER

CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT, France (AP) – The United States on Monday lifted restrictions on travel from a long list of countries, including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe, leading the way to an emotional reunion lasting almost two years and giving a boost to the airline and tourism industries decimated by the pandemic.

Women will kiss their husbands for the first time in months. Grandmothers coo over grandsons who have doubled in age since the last time they saw them. Aunts, uncles and cousins ​​will snuggle up against babies they haven’t met yet.

“I’m going to jump into his arms, kiss him, touch him,” Gaye Camara said of the New York husband she hasn’t seen since before COVID-19 brought the fly world here and all over the world stop.

“Just talking about it makes me emotional,” said Camara, 40, as she rolled her luggage through Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, which could almost be mistaken for her pre-pandemic self. , busy with buzzing crowds, although wearing face masks.

Rules that go into effect on Monday allow air travel from a range of countries from which it has been restricted since the early days of the pandemic – as long as the traveler has proof of vaccination and a COVID-19 test negative. Those crossing the land borders into Mexico or Canada will need proof of vaccination but not testing.

U.S. citizens and permanent residents were still allowed to enter the United States, but travel bans immobilized tourists, thwarted business travelers, and often separated families.

When Camara last saw her husband Mamadou in January 2020, they had no way of knowing they would have to wait 21 months before seeing each other again. She lives in Alsace, France, where she works as a secretary. He is based in New York.

“It was very hard at the start. I cried almost every night, ”she said.

Video calls, texts and phone conversations kept them connected, but couldn’t fill the void of separation.

“I can’t wait,” she said. “Being with him, his presence, his face, his smile.”

Airlines are bracing for an increase in activity after the pandemic and the resulting restrictions have plunged international travel. Data from travel and analytics firm Cirium showed airlines were increasing UK-US flights by 21% this month compared to last month.

A sign of the enormous importance of transatlantic travel to airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic celebrated the reopening by synchronizing the departures of their morning flights to New York on parallel runways at London’s Heathrow Airport. BA CEO Sean Doyle was on his company’s plane.

“Together, even as competitors, we fought for the safe return of transatlantic travel – and now we are celebrating this accomplishment as a team. things, ”Doyle wrote in a message to customers, noting that the flight had the number that belonged to the Concorde supersonic.

For Martine Kerherve, being separated from loved ones in the United States was filled with concerns that they would not survive the pandemic that has claimed more than 5 million lives worldwide.

“We thought we could die without seeing each other,” said Kerherve, who was traveling to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., From Paris. “We’ve all been through times of depression, of anxiety.”

Before the pandemic, it was a trip that Kerherve and his companion Francis Pasquier made once or twice a year. When they lost that, “we lost our bearings,” Pasquier said.

Maria Giribet, meanwhile, has not seen her twin grandchildren Gabriel and David for about half of their lives. Now 3 1/2, the boys are in San Francisco, which at the height of the pandemic could just as easily have been another planet for Giribet, 74, who lives on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca.

“I’m going to hug them, smother them, that’s what I dream of,” Giribet said after checking in for his flight. Widowed, she lost her husband to a long illness before the pandemic and her three grown children all live abroad.

“I found myself on my own,” said Giribet, who was flying alone for the first time in her life.

The change will also have a profound effect on the US borders with Mexico and Canada, where round trips were a way of life until the pandemic struck and the United States halted non-essential travel.

Main street malls, restaurants and stores in US border towns have been devastated by the lack of Mexican visitors. At the border with Canada, cross-border hockey rivalries that were communal traditions were shattered. Churches that had members on both sides of the border hope to welcome parishioners they haven’t seen for nearly two years.

River Robinson’s American partner couldn’t be in Canada for the birth of their baby boy 17 months ago. She was delighted to hear of the reopening of the United States.

“I’m planning to take my baby for American Thanksgiving,” said Robinson, who lives in St. Thomas, Ont. “If all goes well at the border, I plan to shoot him down as much as possible. “

It’s “crazy to think he has a whole different side of the family that he hasn’t even met yet,” she added.

The United States will accept travelers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those used in the United States. This is a relief for many in Canada, where the AstraZeneca vaccine is widely used.

But millions of people around the world who have been vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V, China’s CanSino, or others not approved by the WHO will not be able to travel to the United States.

The measures come as the United States has seen its COVID-19 outlook improve dramatically in recent weeks since the summer delta surge that pushed hospitals to the brink in many places.

Travel industry players are hoping this will give a boost after COVID-19-related travel bans brought the industry to its knees.

Travel agent Francis Legros, flying from Paris to a travel industry convention in Las Vegas, has taken to the skies determined to revive his business.

“We are in the process of rebuilding,” he said. “It’s a new chapter, a new professional life.

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Loller reported from Nashville, Tennessee. Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.


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