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Lifting US travel ban ‘feels like a dream’ for loved ones set to be reunited

·5 min read

The lifting of the US travel ban after more than 18 months “feels like a dream”, according to people who have been kept apart during the Covid-19 pandemic.

From November, fully vaccinated travellers from the UK and much of the EU will be allowed to enter the US for the first time since Donald Trump closed borders at the start of the pandemic.

Damien Moore-Evans, who is half-French and half-English and lives in Long Island, New York, told the PA news agency that he is looking forward to his family meeting his daughter for the first time.

The 35-year-old’s father, brother, stepmother, stepbrother and stepsister live in the UK, while his mother, stepfather and other brother live in France.

Mr Moore-Evans, a vice-president at consultancy company Principle, said his daughter was born in February 2020 and his mother and stepfather had planned to visit six weeks later.

But just a week before the trip, the US closed its borders to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Mr Moore-Evans said: “A year went by and then finally today is the news we’ve all been waiting for. My daughter’s going to be 20 months next month.

“I was very fortunate to take her to France in June to finally meet my mum at 16 months old. It was an incredibly emotional moment.

“My dad, my stepmother, my brother, my stepbrother and stepsister still haven’t met her.”

He added: “I was deeply upset that none of my family members could meet my first child and see her birth. It’s such a memorable moment in your life.

Mr Moore-Evans said as soon as the news of the travel ban lifting was announced, he contacted his family to make plans.

“The first thing I did was text my family WhatsApp group and I said ‘finally we can start planning. Who’s available in November? What are we doing for Christmas?’

“I just want (my family) to spend time with (my daughter) because these moments are so precious in life.”

Meanwhile, the announcement means Helen Erskine will be able to be reunited with her daughter for the first time in nearly two years.

Ms Erskine, 54 from Greater Manchester, has not seen her daughter, Rachel, 29, since December 2019 as she has been unable to return to the UK as doing so would mean her being locked out of the US, where she has worked in sales for the last three years.

Speaking to PA, Ms Erskine said: “It’s been a really, really difficult time for the family.

“It’s been awful, (Rachel’s) missed the funeral of a uncle, she’s missed when we have been able to get together as a family, she’s missed all these things.

“(Rachel has) got a twin sister and her twin sister should have been going out to visit (Rachel) in March 2020 and it was the week after the ban came in.

“It’s been a constant. You go to sleep thinking about the ban and hoping it’s going to get lifted and then it’s the first thing that you (think of when) you wake up in the morning.

“You wake up in the night fearful, thinking about if you’re going to see her again and what happens if someone in the family falls ill. It’s a constant anxiety.”

Ms Erskine said Rachel and her twin Rebecca both contracted Covid during the pandemic, with the latter being exposed to the virus as an NHS nurse.

The family’s initial hope that Joe Biden’s inauguration as US president and subsequent vaccination push would mean the travel ban would be scrapped in early 2021 was not realised.

Ms Erskine said Twitter groups for those affected by the ban had helped her with emotional support and pooled information on the restrictions for what she called a “forgotten minority”.

She said she was baffled when the US allowed in nationals from countries like Mexico and Russia which had lower vaccination rates than Britain and the EU.

Ms Erksine now hopes Rachel will be able to join her family for Christmas.

The family, who live in Wythenshawe, spent the holidays apart in 2020, with Rachel’s twin sister working on an NHS ward on Christmas Day while she was spending it with friends in the US.

Meanwhile, Connor Wagner, 22, said the lifting of the ban “feels like a dream and the reality hasn’t hit (him) yet”, as he will finally get to meet his girlfriend in person.

The student from Liverpool met his girlfriend, Kaelynn Corl, 20, also a student, from Cincinnati, Ohio, on Twitter two years ago after they joined a Game Of Thrones group chat.

Mr Wagner said: “We have waited to see each other since March of last year. I am so excited, the ban is lifting just in time for her 21st birthday and Christmas.

“We have watched 150 movies together so for our first date we will definitely be going to watch a movie at the cinema. We will also be doing lots of festive stuff I imagine.”

He added that he was looking forward to meeting his girlfriend’s horses, Ariel and Empire, when he travelled to the US on November 20.

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