SAN FRANCISCO INT'L AIRPORT (KPIX 5) – After more than 18 months, COVID-19 restrictions have finally dropped on international travel. That means reunions, and some new hope for the travel industry in the Bay Area.
"So we're glad to see our little sister," said Marlies Franken upon her arrival at San Francisco International Airport. "She's the biggest one."
"The youngest one," her sister laughed.
Sisters who had not been able to mourn a family loss. Parents who had been separated from their children. Young couples who had been apart. There were reunions of all kinds at SFO's International Terminal Monday.
"She's been living here for 25 years," Franken said. "We'd see her regularly, but because of COVID, two years was the last time."
A lot of people at SFO on Monday had one thing in common: They were standing by for the moment the travel restrictions fell.
"Yeah, always looking at the Internet, when is the new update coming," said Daniel, arriving to see his girlfriend. "First we heard early November. We didn't know what was gonna happen. Then, only an hour after they announced it, now I'm booking my trip rescheduling the flight and now I'm here. It's amazing."
"The guidelines said early November the border will be open," said Pierre Martin. "So my mom took a flight as soon as she could. It was November 7, then she learned that November 8th was the official date."
The expectation is that the new rules will bring more flights, and hopefully a boost to San Francisco's tourist industry, still struggling to rebound with sidewalks that are nowhere close to pre-pandemic traffic.
"Extremely quiet," said Reggie Brown, standing in Union Square. "Extremely quiet. Kind of creepy, especially last year, doing security down the street at one of the retail stores. You couldn't hardly find anybody."
So possibly good news for businesses this year. For families, certainly a gift in time for the holidays.
"It was tough," Martin said. "Since we've had the kids, she used to visit three or four times a year. So yeah, it's been a void in our life for sure. So we're very excited."
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