International visitors land at post-pandemic closure meetings at JFK airport

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Some New Yorkers kissed loved ones for the first time in nearly 20 months on Monday after the Biden administration lifted foreign travel bans put in place in response to the pandemic.

Shortly after their flights landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, many overseas visitors shed tears of joy as they hugged family and friends.

But not all.

“I’m English. I don’t get emotional,” joked Antony Baird of Newcastle, England, 59, who crossed the pond with British Airways to build a custom guitar and play with old pal David Roe.

“It’s good to see my mate,” added Roe, 57. “It’s always great. It’s great to finally be allowed to travel.

Since early 2020, the federal government has attempted to slow the spread of the coronavirus by banning non-citizen and non-immigrant air travelers to the United States from 33 countries, including China, Mexico, India, Brazil and many European countries. On Monday, those restrictions were dropped. Foreigners are now starting to flow into the United States

“I’ve never been to the United States, let alone New York,” said Rachel Wager, 44, from Cambridge, England, who came as soon as she got to see her sister, Katie Mejias, 40. , who lives in Queens. “My sister just moved here, so my family is waiting for the travel ban to be lifted. ”

Anthony Baird, right, left England on Monday to visit childhood friend and New Jersey resident David Roe so the two can catch up and play music together on November 8, 2021.
Ben Fractenberg / THE CITY

With a few exceptions, adult travelers must now be fully vaccinated and provide proof of a negative COVID test within one day of departure, according to federal officials. Unvaccinated children must show proof of a negative test within three days of departure if traveling with a vaccinated adult or one day if they are alone or with an unvaccinated adult.

But not all vaccinations are enough: only vaccines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization are acceptable – adding Coronavac, BBIBP-CorV, Corvaxin, AstraZeneca and Covishield to J&J injections , Moderna and Pfizer used in the United States

Foreign travelers are also arriving on foot, by car, bus and train, after the US land borders with Mexico and Canada opened Monday to international visitors.

Stimulate tourism

Departing from Heathrow Airport on Monday morning, a flight each of Virgin Atlantic and British Airways made a spectacular synchronized take-off en route to JFK.

British Airways will operate six flights a day from Heathrow to JFK, according to Bloomberg News, up from a dozen a day before the pandemic – and with all of its 747 jumbo jets retired.

The lifting of restrictions on international travel on Monday coincided with Governor Kathy Hochul’s $ 450 billion pledge to boost the state’s tourism industry.

In 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, New York City welcomed a record 67 million tourists. The city expects to welcome 36.4 million tourists by the end of the year, including 4.6 million from other countries, according to the tourism bureau NYC & Co.

“Our tourism industry represents the essence of what sets New York City apart from the rest,” Hochul told a crowd gathered at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. “New York cannot come back from this pandemic unless our tourism industry and its workers return. ”

Governor Kathy Hochul has spoken of bringing back tourism on the day COVID international travel restrictions were lifted, November 8, 2021.

Governor Kathy Hochul has spoken of bringing back tourism on the day COVID international travel restrictions were lifted, November 8, 2021.
Don Pollard / Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Under the slogan “Bring back tourism, bring back jobs,” she said the stimulus package would revitalize the industry by providing payments to hardest hit workers, investment in small businesses and marketing in the country and in the country. the world.

“Today is an important milestone,” Hochul said. “This is the day we welcome our international travelers again. So those of you who enjoyed going to the airport without a crowd: Sorry, those days are over. But it’s a good thing. ”


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