Families reunite at SFO as US lifts international COVID travel restrictions

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Travelers arriving at San Francisco International Airport from India Monday morning said it felt great to be in the United States, after a ban on international travel into the states was lifted.

"We have been talking through Facetime but it is never the feel factor. So we are really feeling, after touching down here, great relief," said Prakash Srivastava of Delhi. He is in the Bay Area to see his daughter and granddaughter for the first time in two years.

"I am feeling relieved. It is a great relief because we have been stuck. For two years, we couldn't visit," he said.

Some are still waiting for that special reunion, but say it is coming as their loved ones rush to book flights now that the ban has been lifted.

RELATED: White House says fully vaccinated foreign visitors can start entering US on Nov. 8

"We have a brother who has become a grandfather. So he wants to visit his daughter and look at his granddaughter for the first time. So it is a big moment for them," said Anurana Saluja, a Dublin resident who was returning from a visit to Delhi.

It's not just family reunions that people have waited for. One business traveler said he usually comes to the states four times a year for his company.

"It feels great because now I can serve more to the company and do more work on the business. Business was suffering,"

Rohit Rohia of Delhi said. He was on the first flight to the U.S., he was so anxious to make the trip.

RELATED: San Francisco tourism industry bracing for boost as US lifts international travel restrictions

International travelers must have a negative COVID test and must show proof of full vaccination to enter the United States.

One traveler said he thinks those requirements are too extreme.

"I think it's great that we have lifted the travel ban but I don't think there should be vaccination restrictions of where people go on this earth," he said before boarding a flight to Brazil. He did not want to give his name.

Manny Jurado and his wife gave the lifting of the travel ban a thumbs up Monday morning as they headed to catch a flight to Cancun.

RELATED: International travel ban into US lifted for more than 30 countries

"We've been able to travel all over the place, so I think it is reciprocal to have the other countries be able to do the same thing. You can't stop living life," Jurado said.

His wife's niece and her family plan to visit them in the Bay Area from Spain in December, now that the ban has been lifted.

Airlines will be required to check travelers' vaccine status and compare it to their identification. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to $35,000 per infraction.

SFO duty manager says they are expecting 600 more international travelers compared to last Monday.

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