ÖOn November 8, the US will loosen the restrictions that have effectively stalled tourism and non-essential travel from 33 countries including the UK, most of Europe and China. The restrictions have separated families and loved ones, thousands have missed birthdays, holidays – and in the case of the parents of British tennis star Emma Raducanu – a US Open final.

Now all visitors with a WHO-approved vaccination (including AstraZeneca) are allowed to visit the United States. Visitors with passports from countries where less than 10% of the country’s population are vaccinated will also be admitted.

Virgin Atlantic says bookings to the US, primarily New York, are swollen 600% since the announcement. Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian forecast a “rush of trips at once” in November, with queues likely at airports. Hotel prices in New York are also returning to normal levels after a summer full of discounts.

Tourism industry experts assume that this increase will continue for a while. “The pent-up demand from overseas to visit the US will remain great for at least several years,” said Tim Hentschel, co-founder and CEO of HotelPlanner, the Guardian.

Since the beginning of 2020 there has been a travel ban of some kind, Donald Trump issued the first proclamation that prevented most travelers from China from visiting the USA – with the list of prohibited countries quickly expanding. Land crossings from Mexico and Canada were also banned, although there were exceptions for green cards and some work visas.

For many, this ban has only exacerbated the pandemic’s toll and further isolated people as family members fell ill or life staggered on the verge of manageability.

Prior to the pandemic, Diana Jimenez, a 26-year-old graphic designer from Tijuana, Mexico, crossed the border every few months, mainly to see her sister and family in Wyoming.

Canadians Chelsea Perry (left) and husband Garrick Perry meet their American friend Alison Gallant in Blaine, Washington on August 9 as the US-Canadian border opens to fully vaccinated Americans. Canadians must wait until November 8 to enter the United States for non-essential travel. Photo: Jason Redmond / AFP / Getty Images

She says the lack of visits has been harsh over the past year, especially when her father got cancer. After the restrictions are lifted, Jimenez plans a road trip to visit her sister’s family. “We’re just the two of us and we are very close, ”said Jimenez. She misses her sister very much, but in reality it is her niece she wants to see: “She is 12 and she is the love of my life. As a baby, I cleaned their diapers, ”says Jimenez.

Couples have also been divided by the travel ban. Georgia Samuel is an Australian citizen currently doing her Masters in Communication Studies at the University of Southern California but has a friend who lives near London. The last time they saw each other was in July when she moved to the US, but they will meet again on November 14th when he flies in, “said Samuel. They worked for months to find a way to get around the ban, “which we just couldn’t do in the end. I really felt like the ban was being overstated and overdone for at least months, and I was really relieved when it was announced that it would be lifted. “

Concern about travel has led people to seek advice online and let their frustrations run wild. On Reddit, a forum called r / UStravelban is full of stories of people waiting to reunite with loved ones.

“Finally I can get to know my girlfriend after 2 years so that after 12 years of advertising we can finally tie the knot,” said one user wrote in September.

“Although I am American myself, my long-time partner is and has not missed my sister’s wedding, has not yet met my nephew, and in the end I had to do without these beautiful trips to the USA without him. Now we’re excited to be going home together as a family for Thanksgiving this year! ”Wrote Another.

Although most travelers were banned, there were some loopholes for those with the time and resources. The US had allowed most vaccinated tourists from Canada and Mexico to travel by air (but not across the land border) since the summer of 2021. This meant travelers from Europe and China could stop in neighboring countries for 15 days – as long as the US required US border control – and then enter the US. It was a surprising boon for long-term tourism in Mexico, with some resorts report a 50% increase in bookings Year for year.

Large queues are predicted for the crossing from San Ysidro to the United States from Tijuana, Mexico. Photo: Guillermo Arias / AFP / Getty Images

Even if the borders are opened, there are complications when crossing the border into the US, especially for Mexicans. The traffic on the border with San Ysidro in Tijuana is increased by the exuberant open-air markets on the highways – this is currently delaying the crossing by about an hour, but when the border opens to tourists it is expected to be five or more hours due to unprecedented demand.

On social media, Spanish-language memes mock November 8th as a day when Mexican tourists clog traffic so they can shop at Ross Dress for Less, a department store popular in Southern California.

While most European visitors can travel with an Esta visa waiver, most visitors from Mexico still need to apply for a tourist visa. “We have a group waiting for an appointment at the embassy and more than 50 families are waiting to begin their process,” says Heidy Bizarron, a nurse who works at the Federacion de Nayaritas Unidos, the separated families between the United States and Mexico connects.

“That’s how long the wait took,” explains Bizarron, explaining how the families she organizes reunion trips for have already been postponed twice.

Sometimes it’s heartbreaking what happens in between waiting times.There are even fathers or mothers who haven’t had a chance to reconnect with their children because they die in the process, ”says Bizarron.

While Jimenez said she is excited to see her niece and sister again, she is still concerned that the rush to return to the US could worsen the spread of the virus and ultimately lead to another border closure.

“I’m a little worried that if a lot of people go there, people will get sick again and they’ll close it again,” she said.