As the sliding doors to the international gates at DFW International Airport opened, Ana Blanca steadied her phone and waited to capture the first moments when 20-month-old Haruki greeted his grandmother.
Haruki Uchimoto, born in El Salvador as the COVID-19, was closing borders around to stop the virus from spreading. He was denied a face-to-face meeting with his grandmother until Monday. The United States lifted travel restrictions for many global visitors to get vaccinated against the virus.
"I had planned to bring him when he was about two months old, but it was impossible," said Cecilia Uchimoto, whose mother she hadn't seen since 2017. "Now, 20 months later, we've arrived."
Blanca, her daughter, and her grandson exchanged hugs at DFW International Airport as restrictions on international visitors were mostly eased for vaccinated tourists who had also tested negative on a recent COVID-19 test.
It was the first setback in travel restrictions since COVID-19 threw travel into disarray in early 2020, forcing governments throughout to restrict travel in a largely unsuccessful bid to prevent the century's health concern. Global visitors now follow a common standard for entering the United States, which involves vaccination from a list of approved vaccinations and a negative test within three days of arrival.
Bree Jimenez of Mansfield and her daughter Lilliana Jimenez had to get anticipating the arrival of Nele Zentel, a 15-year-old German exchange student