‘Light at the End of the Tunnel’: Scenes of International Reunions at Newark Airport
(Bloomberg) -- On Monday, the U.S. lifted its 20-month-long pandemic restrictions on travel, allowing vaccinated travelers from more than 30 countries, including Mexico, Canada, and most of Europe to enter the country. Here are scenes from some of the emotional reunions at Newark Liberty International Airport yesterday.
Mother and Child Reunion
Joost Wagenaar welcomed his mom Til Wagenaar as she arrived from Amsterdam on Monday morning. Joost is originally from the Netherlands but works in Philadelphia as an assistant professor of informatics at the University of Pennsylvania. Joost and his parents had been separated for two years due to the pandemic.
“My husband was supposed to be here too,” Til said, “But he is ill and couldn't make it.” Although bitter-sweet, she shared her excitement in meeting her two granddaughters, ages 8 and 18 months, whom she will be meeting for the first time.
Natália Abrahão and Mark Ogertsehnig got engaged two days before the pandemic and have had to push their wedding back twice since then. Mark had been locked down in the Netherlands since he left the States three months into the pandemic, so visiting each was challenging.
“For two years, we've been managing being separated for three to four months at a time and then traveling through Mexico to meet up,” Abrahão said. They’re both looking forward to spending the holidays together and now plan to get married next May.
For the past 10 years, Patrick van Rosendaal has been running BE NY—a New York City tourism business specializing in the Belgian market. Before the pandemic, van Rosendaal averaged 5,000 customers annually, but with no customers for the last 20 months, he was forced to lay off all his employees. Van Rosendaal welcomed the passengers on the first flight from Brussels with fresh Belgian waffles and bottled water.
“The pandemic was very harsh on the business, but at least there's a little light at the end of the tunnel,” van Rosendaal said.
Although he was expecting an overflow of customers as the borders opened up, he has only received seven so far, which he attributes to Belgium's recent wave of Covid cases.
Natascha Lotze flew in from Frankfurt to visit her girlfriend, Juli Porpora. The 23-year-old students met on Twitter and have been in a relationship for four months. After months of texting back and forth and one holiday in Italy, the couple gleefully reunited.
MaKensi Kastl waited anxiously to be welcome her boyfriend, Thierry Coudassot, who was flying in from Paris. The two have been dating for almost three years but hadn't seen each other in 22 months. The couple met a year before the pandemic just outside of Paris, where Kastl worked as an Au Pair and Coudassot was a police officer. When Kastl moved back to the U.S. months later, the couple maintained a long-distance relationship.
“I'm taking him to Chick-fil-A," Kastl joked, "He has never had good fried chicken."
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