Families reunite with loved ones for first time since COVID-19 pandemic as travel restrictions ease

It's an emotional day for families as restrictions on who can enter the United States eased.

The ban on nonessential travel from more than 30 countries was lifted Monday, allowing for loved ones to reunite for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. All non-immigrant, non-citizen travelers were prohibited from traveling to the U.S. during that time.

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"We wouldn’t have been able to come home if it wasn’t open. We'd be still overseas until we would be able to come home," Melissa Campbell said.

Campbell and her family have spent the pandemic overseas, away from other family members for nearly two years, but they were preparing for a reunion.

The Campbell family

"Thankfully for technology, we are able to communicate, but it’s still not the same as giving your family a big, warm hug and just being able to be together," she said.

Detroit Metro Aiport said that international travel dropped nearly 80% from 2019 to 2020. A spokeswoman for the airport said officials are optimistic that lifting restrictions will get travel numbers closer to pre-pandemic levels.