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Open Again: Tourists Rejoice, International Flights Into US Resume After 20 Months of COVID Misery

  The British are coming. And so is everybody else. On Monday, international travelers were once again allowed to enter the U.S. for the fir...

 The British are coming. And so is everybody else.

On Monday, international travelers were once again allowed to enter the U.S. for the first time since the dawn of the pandemic almost 20 months ago.

To enter the country, travelers need to prove they are fully vaccinated and have a negative COVID-19 test.

To mark the return of the lucrative trans-Atlantic market, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic took off in tandem from London to New York City, according to the Daily Mail.

On Monday, British Airways planned 26 flights to the U.S., bringing 8,600 passengers.

To prepare for the arrivals, the Times Square Alliance unfurled a “Welcome Back World” sign in Times Square, according to USA Today.

Louise Erebara, from Danbury, Connecticut, arrived at JFK airport to welcome her sister and her sister’s husband, who were flying courtesy of British Airways.

“It’s everything; we can’t thank British Airways enough,” Erebara said. “They want to reunite ex-pats, and they’re doing it.”

Passengers leaving London experienced a range of emotions.

“Goodness, I feel so nervous,” said Bernadette Sumners from Stratford-on-Avon, England, who was bound for Oregon and New York to see her children, according to The New York Times.

“There so many things to remember and organize,” she said. “It’s very stressful, but I know it’s going to be worth it when I see my children and meet my grandchildren.”

Julia Jacobs was heading from London to the U.S. with two friends and a lot of luggage.

“Most of these bags are empty,” she said  “We’re off to the Big Apple for some Christmas shopping and Christmas cheer. It’s been such a depressing two years; we need to see those bright lights and do some retail therapy.”

The U.S. Travel Association estimates $300 billion in tourism revenue was lost during the pandemic, according to the Daily Mail.

“After nearly two years of restrictions, Monday begins in earnest the return of international travel, when long-separated families and friends can safely reunite, travelers can explore this amazing country and the U.S. is able to reconnect with the global community,” Association President and CEO Roger Dow said, the Daily Mail reported.

“It is a monumental day for travelers, for the communities and businesses that rely on international visitation and for the U.S. economy overall,” he continued.

Before the pandemic, about 5 million people a year traveled form Britain to the U.S., according to inews.

Now that restrictions are over, “JetBlue has launched a no-frills transatlantic service between Gatwick” airport near London and New York, inews reported.

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