The United States reopens its land and air borders Monday to foreign visitors fully vaccinated against Covid-19, ending 20 months of restrictions on travel from around the globe that separated families, hobbled tourism, and strained diplomatic ties.
The ban, imposed by former President Donald Trump in early 2020 and upheld by his successor Joe Biden, has been widely criticized and become emblematic of the upheavals caused by the pandemic.
The restrictions were particularly unpopular in Europe and US neighbors Canada and Mexico.
In an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, US borders were closed after March 2020 to travelers from large parts of the world, including the European Union, Britain, and China, India, and Brazil. Overland visitors from Mexico and Canada were also banned.
The months of restrictions affecting hundreds of millions of people helped fuel both personal and economic suffering brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s been so hard,” Alison Henry, 63, told AFP. “I just want to see my son.”
The British woman plans to fly Monday to see her son in New York, after 20 months of separation.
Families on both sides of the Atlantic are eager to reunite with their loved ones.
Although travel from the United States to Europe has been possible since the summer, foreign US residents holding certain visas have had no guarantee of re-entry.
To cope with surging demand, airlines have increased the number of transatlantic flights and plan to use larger planes, as they work their way out of the pandemic crisis.