May 22, 2022

Forbes India – Travel: US travel ban ends, easing personal frustrations and diplomatic tensions


Passengers arriving from Sao Paolo, Brazil greet their daughter, right, and three-week-old grandson at Miami International Airport in Miami on Monday, November 8, 2021. Starting Monday, foreign travelers can enter the United States if they show full proof of vaccination and a negative coronavirus test performed within three days of departure. (Scott McIntyre / The New York)

BRUSSELS – Laurence Tesson, originally from Douai in the north of France, has suffered for three years seeing her 34-year-old son who lives in California.

For months, like many Europeans, Tesson waited with frustration for the United States to keep its COVID-related travel ban in effect, even after the European Union lifted its own ban on Americans. As she prepared to board one of the first flights to Los Angeles on Monday when the ban was lifted on vaccinated Europeans and others, that frustration and sadness gave way to exhilaration, tinged with worry. that something could still go wrong.

“It’s only when I set foot at the Los Angeles airport that I will be relieved,” Tesson, 54, said over the weekend as she mopped and mopped her house to soothe the voltage.

Lifting the travel ban will allow couples and families to reunite after 18 months of missed reunions, births, marriages and funerals. It also ends a diplomatic standoff between the United States and the European Union, where thousands have taken to social media to pressure governments to end the ban, using the hashtag #LoveIsNotTourism.

In June, the EU asked member countries to reopen their borders to American travelers, and its leaders expected the Biden administration to return the favor soon. The EU was closing in on U.S. vaccination rates – it exceeded them in July – and members contained coronavirus infections as cases in the United States increased.

“We need to solve this problem as quickly as possible,” said Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, in unusually direct remarks in August. “It can’t go on for weeks. “

It went on for months.

Eirini Linardaki, a Franco-Greek visual artist who flew to New York on Monday to reunite with her partner, said she felt a sense of injustice over the summer when she saw planes from the United States landing at Paris.

“The idea that we couldn’t visit our loved ones in the country they are in, we Europeans didn’t know about that,” she said of travel before the pandemic.

Linardaki, 45, still doesn’t take anything for granted: “I still wonder, is this real?”

Even with the borders open again, many Europeans have struggled to understand why the ban has been in place for so long, said Edward Alden, senior researcher at the Council on Foreign Relations specializing in immigration and trade.

“It separated a lot of couples and families, and lasted a lot longer than most people thought,” he said, “so there was tremendous frustration.”

The Biden administration lifts the ban weeks before the holiday season, and Europeans can now enter the United States with proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test less than 72 hours old.

But the opening comes just as Europe faces near-record levels of coronavirus infections. And although 65% of EU residents have been vaccinated, there are big disparities within the bloc, with most Eastern European countries lagging behind.

This has left many Europeans worried that travel restrictions could be reimposed soon, although Alden said he doubted the Biden administration would change course in the coming weeks, citing pressure from airlines and partners. foreigners.

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