Wednesday, December 1, 2021

US lifts pandemic travel ban, opens doors for visitors

CHARLES de Gaulle Airport, France (NWN) – The US on Monday lifted travel restrictions from a long list of countries including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe, allowing tourists to take long-delayed trips and allowing family members to visit their loved ones. allowed to rejoin. More than a year and a half because of the pandemic.

“I’m going to jump into her arms, kiss her, touch her,” Guy Camara said of the husband in New York she hasn’t seen since COVID-19 brought the fly-here-there-everywhere world . Wait.

“Just talking about it makes me emotional,” said Camara, 40, as she swung her luggage through Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, which can almost be mistaken for her pre-pandemic self. , who is busy with the crowd in face masks.

Rules that go into effect Monday allow air travel from a range of countries from which it has been banned since the early days of the pandemic – as long as the passenger has proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. Those crossing the land border from Mexico or Canada will need proof of vaccination but no tests.

US citizens and permanent residents were always allowed to enter the US, but travel stifled tourists, failed business travelers and often separated families.

Airlines are now preparing for a boom in travel. Data from travel and analytics firm Cirium shows airlines are increasing flights between the United Kingdom and the US by 21% this month compared to last month.

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

“In the beginning it was very hard. I used to cry almost every night,” she said. “I got through thanks to him. He knows how to talk to me, calm me down.”

Video calls, text messages, phone conversations kept them connected – but couldn’t make up for the lack of separation.

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

For Grandma Maria Giribet, the apple of her eye is her grandchildren Gabriel and David. The twins are in San Francisco, which during the height of the pandemic could be another planet for the 74-year-old Giribet, who lives on the Mediterranean island of Majorca. Now running at 3 1/2 4, the boys were half the age he last saw them.

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“I’m going to hug them, suffocate them, that’s what I dream of,” Giribet said after check-in for his flight. A widow, she lost her husband to a long illness before the pandemic and has three grown children living abroad: a son in Paris, a daughter in Richmond, Virginia, and a father of twins in San Francisco.

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

The change will also have a profound effect on US borders with Mexico and Canada, where back-and-forth travel was a way of life until the pandemic hit and the US closed non-essential travel.

Malls, restaurants and Main Street shops in US border towns have been devastated by a lack of visitors to Mexico. On the border with Canada, cross-border hockey rivalries that were community traditions followed. Churches whose members were on either side of the border are hoping to welcome parishioners they haven’t seen in nearly two years.

loved ones have missed holidays, birthdays and funerals While non-essential air travel was banned, and they are now eager to rejoin.

Rivers Robinson’s American partner was not in Canada for the birth of their child 17 months earlier. She was thrilled to hear about the reopening of America.

“I plan to take my baby downstairs for American Thanksgiving,” said Robinson, who lives in St. Thomas, Ontario. “If everything goes smoothly at the border, I’ll plan to take it down as much as I can.”

The US will accept travelers who have been fully vaccinated with any shot approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those in use in the US. The point is, where the AstraZeneca vaccine is widely used.

The move comes as the US has seen a dramatic improvement in its COVID-19 outlook in recent weeks as a summer delta surge pushed hospitals to the brink in many places.

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Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

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