BusinessDay

US lifts travel ban on visitors, families glad to reunite

The United States of America (USA) has announced on Monday, November 8, 2021 the lifting of restrictions on travellers from a long list of countries.

According to the Associated Press, the lift has set the stage for emotional reunions for families from countries such as Mexico, Canada among many others, and this comes as a boost for airline and tourism industries who for about two years are decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the travellers expressed their delight at this development. Gaya Camara, a traveller from France said she was glad that she was going to see her husband who she has not seen since before COVID-19 brought the fly-here-there-and-everywhere world to a halt.

“I am going to jump into his arms, kiss him, touch him. Just talking about it makes me emotional,” Camara said.

For Martine Kerherve, being separated from loved ones in the United States was filled with worries that they might not survive the pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people worldwide.

“We told ourselves that we could die without seeing each other. We all went through periods of depression, and anxiety,” Kerherve said.

Before the pandemic, it was a trip Kerherve and her partner, Francis Pasquier, would make once or twice a year. When they lost that.

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According to Pasquier “we lost our bearings when we lost the chance for such a trip.”

Maria Giribet 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 during the height of the pandemic might as well have been another planet for 74-year-old Giribet, who lives on the Mediterranean isle of Majorca.

“I’m going to hug them, suffocate them, that is what I dream of,” Giribet said after checking in for her flight. A widow, she lost her husband to a lengthy illness before the pandemic and her three grown children all live abroad.

“I found myself all alone,” said Giribet, who was flying for the first time in her life by herself.

The rules that go into effect Monday allow air travel from a series of countries from which it has been restricted since the early days of the pandemic, as long as the traveller has proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. Those crossing land borders from Mexico or Canada will require proof of vaccination but no test.

Airlines are now preparing for a surge in travel after the pandemic and resulting restrictions caused international travel to plunge. Data from travel and analytics firm Cirium showed airlines are increasing flights between the United Kingdom and the U.S. by 21percent this month over last month.

The change will also have a profound effect on the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada, where traveling back and forth was a way of life until the pandemic hit and the U.S. shut down nonessential travel.

Malls, restaurants, and Main Street shops in U.S. border towns have been devastated by the lack of visitors from Mexico.

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