Countries include Brazil, China, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The U.S. travel ban that has been in place during much of the COVID-19 pandemic has been lifted on Monday for those living in more than 30 countries. They include Brazil, China, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe.
Travelers must be vaccinated and provide a negative COVID-19 test.
Exceptions will be made for those living in nearly 50 countries where vaccines are hard to come by and where less than 10 percent of the population is vaccinated.
Because of the eased restrictions, reunions like the ones we saw Sunday night at San Francisco International Airport could be happening very soon at an airport near you.
"It's not going to be overnight, we're not going to see hoards of international visitors to San Francisco tomorrow, but it is really an important step forward in our economic recovery," says Joe D'Alessandro who is the president of the San Francisco Travel Association.
U.S. travelers have been able to leave and come back; but foreign nationals from more than 30 countries have been unable to come to the U.S.
Unfortunately that doesn't help Josie Sarnacki's daughter and granddaughter who live in Germany and weren't able to come to her nieces wedding or her late husband's upcoming memorial.
"It's too late because my husband's memorial is on Wednesday and the wedding is over. They told her if you go, when you come back, you cannot work for at least a month," says Sarnacki.
Quarantine rules that would apply to her granddaughter's return to Germany. And rules now seen in other places like China too.
International travelers are vital to the Bay Area. D'Alessandro says they made up for 60 percent of tourism dollars in San Francisco pre-pandemic.
"They buy more souvenirs, they buy more clothes, they go out and eat, they really want to experience the whole dynamic of what a trip to San Francisco and what a trip to California is all about," says D'Alessandro.
But there are still many questions on how long it will take for these travelers to come back.
"A lot of people in Mexico don't want to be vaccinated so they are thinking about a lot of other destinations to visit," says Lili Valladares who was headed to Mexico when we spoke with her.
And Suzanne Metcalfe just got back from Spain, via England. She says the COVID procedures weren't consistent and she probably won't be traveling again internationally anytime soon.
"I'm just going to wait until I travel again, 'til things settle down, it was too hard on me," says Metcalfe.
But there's a hope and belief among many that international tourists will come back to the US, California, and San Francisco.