SAN DIEGO (AP) — Parents held children born while they were stuck abroad. Long-separated couples kissed, and grandparents embraced grandchildren who had doubled in age.

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This article was published 8/11/2021 (201 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Erin Tridle holds a video chat with her boyfriend Jordan Commarrieu living in Paris from their favorite French restaurant "Petit Trois" in Los Angeles on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Travel restrictions that have separated couples and relatives living in different countries are about to end. New rules go into effect Monday, Nov. 8 that allow air travel from previously restricted countries as long as the traveler has proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Erin Tridle holds a video chat with her boyfriend Jordan Commarrieu living in Paris from their favorite French restaurant "Petit Trois" in Los Angeles on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Travel restrictions that have separated couples and relatives living in different countries are about to end. New rules go into effect Monday, Nov. 8 that allow air travel from previously restricted countries as long as the traveler has proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Parents held children born while they were stuck abroad. Long-separated couples kissed, and grandparents embraced grandchildren who had doubled in age.

The U.S. fully reopened to many vaccinated international travelers Monday, allowing families and friends to reunite for the first time since the coronavirus emerged and offering a boost to the travel industry decimated by the pandemic. The restrictions closed the U.S. to millions of people for 20 months.

Octavio Alvarez and his 14-year-old daughter zipped through a pedestrian crossing in San Diego in less than 15 minutes on their way to visit his mother-in-law in California.

“It’s a big feeling,” said Alvarez, 43, who lives in Ensenada, Mexico, a two-hour drive from San Diego. Prior to the pandemic, his family would visit California twice a month. The emotional cost of the border restrictions were “very high,” he added.

American citizens and permanent residents were always allowed to enter the U.S., but the travel bans grounded tourists, thwarted business travelers and often keep families far apart. Travelers must have proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test.

FILE - Passengers walk through Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City, Oct. 27, 2020. More than a year and a half after COVID-19 concerns prompted the U.S. to close its borders to international travelers from countries including Brazil, China, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom and much of Europe, restrictions are shifting to focus on vaccine status. Beginning Monday, bans on travel from specific countries are over. The U.S. will allow in international travelers, but they must be vaccinated — with a few exceptions. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

FILE - Passengers walk through Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City, Oct. 27, 2020. More than a year and a half after COVID-19 concerns prompted the U.S. to close its borders to international travelers from countries including Brazil, China, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom and much of Europe, restrictions are shifting to focus on vaccine status. Beginning Monday, bans on travel from specific countries are over. The U.S. will allow in international travelers, but they must be vaccinated — with a few exceptions. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

“I think a lot of people have been waiting for this day,” said Eileen Bigelow, area port director for Vermont for Customs and Border Protection. “They look at it as a light at the end of the tunnel for some return of normalcy.”

There were lots of prolonged hugs at airports from coast to coast. At Newark International Airport in New Jersey, Nirmit Shelat repeatedly embraced his girlfriend, Jolly Dave, after she arrived from India, ending their nine-month separation. She was on the first flight out of the country to the United States.

“I can’t even explain in my words how happy I am," Dave said.

A woman walks through the boarding area at Frankfurt airport with a USA flag for a Lufthansa flight to New Yor, Frankfurt, Germany, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. As of November 8, flights with vaccinated EU citizens to the USA will be allowed again. (Sebastian Gollnow/dpa via AP)

A woman walks through the boarding area at Frankfurt airport with a USA flag for a Lufthansa flight to New Yor, Frankfurt, Germany, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. As of November 8, flights with vaccinated EU citizens to the USA will be allowed again. (Sebastian Gollnow/dpa via AP)

Gaye Camara, who lives in France, last saw her husband in New York in January 2020, not knowing it would be 21 months before they could hold each other again.

“I’m going to jump into his arms, kiss him, touch him,” said Camara, 40, as she wheeled her luggage through Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, where the humming crowds resembled those before the pandemic, except for the face masks.

On the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada, where traveling back and forth was a way of life before the pandemic, the reopening brought relief. Malls, restaurants and shops in U.S. border towns were devastated by the lack of visitors from Mexico.

A sign reads in Italian "Let's return to fly to the United States" as passengers stand at the boarding gate for a United Airlines flight for Newark, NJ, at Fiumicino's Leonardo Da Vinci airport, near Rome, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. The U.S. is lifting restrictions on travel from a long list of countries including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe, allowing tourists to make long-delayed trips and family members to reconnect with loved ones after more than a year and a half apart because of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

A sign reads in Italian "Let's return to fly to the United States" as passengers stand at the boarding gate for a United Airlines flight for Newark, NJ, at Fiumicino's Leonardo Da Vinci airport, near Rome, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. The U.S. is lifting restrictions on travel from a long list of countries including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe, allowing tourists to make long-delayed trips and family members to reconnect with loved ones after more than a year and a half apart because of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, flanked by U.S. and Mexican officials at a celebratory news conference at the San Ysidro crossing, said the economic losses were hefty and the cutting of family ties “immeasurable.”

Retail sales in San Ysidro fell about 75% from pre-COVID levels, forcing nearly 300 businesses to close.

Edith Aguirre of Tijuana took off work to go shopping in San Diego. Bubbling with laughter, she accepted a gift bag from a duty-free store at the San Diego border crossing. She was a regular at SeaWorld in San Diego and last came to the U.S. to celebrate her 50th birthday at Disneyland in February 2020.

Travelers for the United States arrive at Air France desk at the Charles de Gaulle airport, north of Paris, Monday, Nov.8, 2021. The U.S. lifted restrictions Monday on travel from a long list of countries including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe, allowing tourists to make long-delayed trips and family members to reconnect with loved ones after more than a year and a half apart because of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Travelers for the United States arrive at Air France desk at the Charles de Gaulle airport, north of Paris, Monday, Nov.8, 2021. The U.S. lifted restrictions Monday on travel from a long list of countries including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe, allowing tourists to make long-delayed trips and family members to reconnect with loved ones after more than a year and a half apart because of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

“It was very draining,” she said of the interruption to her cross-border life.

Sales dropped in half at David’s Western Wear shop in Nogales, Arizona, which manufactures boots popular among Mexicans.

Owner David Moore hopes his specialty products lure back customers, but he said it won't happen overnight. Many Mexicans are still trying to get expired visas renewed amid a backlog. Those who do come may be disappointed to find shelves empty because of supply chain problems.

Travelers for the United States show their documents at the check-in desk at Charles de Gaulle airport, north of Paris, Monday, Nov.8, 2021. The U.S. lifted restrictions Monday on travel from a long list of countries including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe, allowing tourists to make long-delayed trips and family members to reconnect with loved ones after more than a year and a half apart because of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Travelers for the United States show their documents at the check-in desk at Charles de Gaulle airport, north of Paris, Monday, Nov.8, 2021. The U.S. lifted restrictions Monday on travel from a long list of countries including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe, allowing tourists to make long-delayed trips and family members to reconnect with loved ones after more than a year and a half apart because of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

“I really don’t think Mexican shoppers are going to come across in hordes because they have now gotten used to buying a lot of products they need in Mexico," he said.

David Jerome, president and CEO of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce on Mexico's border in Texas, said: “It won’t come back as quickly as it was shut off.”

Still, “we feel like we’re getting our neighbors back and we’re glad to get people going back to work," Jerome said.

Cars line up at a checkpoint after crossing the Peace Bridge from Canada to the United States on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

Cars line up at a checkpoint after crossing the Peace Bridge from Canada to the United States on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

Along Canada's boundary, cross-border hockey rivalries were upended by the travel restrictions. Churches that had members on both sides of the border were suddenly cut off from each other.

But on Monday, border traffic quickly returned.

At Vermont’s busiest international crossing with Canada, U.S. border agents said they began to notice the uptick in border crossing shortly after midnight. By mid-morning, traffic appeared steady.

United States customs officers speak with a man at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Tijuana, Mexico. The U.S. fully reopened its borders with Mexico and Canada on Monday and lifted restrictions on travel that covered most of Europe, setting the stage for emotional reunions nearly two years in the making and providing a boost for the travel industry decimated by the pandemic. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

United States customs officers speak with a man at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Tijuana, Mexico. The U.S. fully reopened its borders with Mexico and Canada on Monday and lifted restrictions on travel that covered most of Europe, setting the stage for emotional reunions nearly two years in the making and providing a boost for the travel industry decimated by the pandemic. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Travelers at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York, one of the northern border's busiest crossings, found a 2 1/2-hour wait at 2 a.m., officials said, though within a few hours traffic was flowing more freely. The bridge typically handles about 2 million passenger vehicles from Fort Erie, Ontario, yearly, many of them bound for the region’s shopping malls, ski slopes and sporting events. Volume dropped by more than 90% during the pandemic.

River Robinson’s American partner wasn’t able to be in Canada for the birth of their baby boy 17 months ago. She was thrilled to hear about the U.S. reopening and planned to take the child to the U.S. for Thanksgiving.

It’s “crazy to think he has a whole other side of the family he hasn’t even met yet,” said Robinson, who lives in St. Thomas, Ontario.

MaKensi Kastl waits with flowers and sign for her boyfriend, who is arriving from France, at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J., Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. The couple has not seen one another in person for over a year due to pandemic travel restrictions. The U.S. lifted restrictions Monday on travel from a long list of countries including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe, setting the stage for emotional reunions nearly two years in the making and providing a boost for the airline and tourism industries decimated by the pandemic. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

MaKensi Kastl waits with flowers and sign for her boyfriend, who is arriving from France, at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J., Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. The couple has not seen one another in person for over a year due to pandemic travel restrictions. The U.S. lifted restrictions Monday on travel from a long list of countries including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe, setting the stage for emotional reunions nearly two years in the making and providing a boost for the airline and tourism industries decimated by the pandemic. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Airlines are preparing for a surge in activity — especially from Europe — after the pandemic and resulting restrictions caused international travel to plunge.

The 28 European countries that were barred made up 37% of overseas visitors in 2019, according to the U.S. Travel Association. As the reopening takes effect, carriers are increasing flights between the United Kingdom and the U.S. by 21% this month over last month, according to data from travel and analytics firm Cirium.

In a sign of the huge importance of trans-Atlantic travel for airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic celebrated the reopening by synchronizing the departures of their early morning flights to New York on parallel runways at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Cars line up at the Paso del Norte international bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, below, on the border with El Paso, Texas, top, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. The U.S. fully reopened its borders with Mexico and Canada on Monday and lifted restrictions on travel that covered most of Europe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)

Cars line up at the Paso del Norte international bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, below, on the border with El Paso, Texas, top, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. The U.S. fully reopened its borders with Mexico and Canada on Monday and lifted restrictions on travel that covered most of Europe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)

Maria Giribet, 74, who lives on the Mediterranean isle of Majorca was headed to San Francisco where she planned to “suffocate" her twin grandchildren with hugs after missing half their lives. Gabriel and David are now 3 1/2.

The U.S. will accept travelers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the shots approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those in use in the U.S. That’s a relief for many in Canada, where the AstraZeneca vaccine is widely used.

But millions of people around the world who were vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V, China’s CanSino or other shots not approved by the WHO will not be able to travel to the U.S.

A family arriving on a Virgin Atlantic flight from Manchester, England to Orlando International Airport heads to baggage claim, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. The nonstop flight was the first for international passengers to Orlando after more than 19 months without traditional transatlantic airline service. Gold paper crowns were distributed to the arriving passengers as a welcome gesture from the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

A family arriving on a Virgin Atlantic flight from Manchester, England to Orlando International Airport heads to baggage claim, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. The nonstop flight was the first for international passengers to Orlando after more than 19 months without traditional transatlantic airline service. Gold paper crowns were distributed to the arriving passengers as a welcome gesture from the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Testing and quarantine requirements remained obstacles for others. A mobile testing truck was parked near the Peace Bridge in New York, promising results in 30 minutes for $225 and next-day results for $160.

Marcela Picone, 39, of the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville, has been waiting for the day her fiancé and father of her 2- and 3-year-old children can visit from Stoney Creek, Ontario. But his 15-year-old son would have to miss school to quarantine upon their return if they traveled.

“He’s a dad to two American kids," she said. "He should have had the right to come into this country the entire 19 months.”

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Thompson reported from Buffalo, New York. Associated Press writers John Leicester in Paris, Travis Loller in Nashville, Tennessee, Wilson Ring in Highgate Springs, Vermont, Anita Snow in Phoenix, Rob Gillies in Toronto and Ted Shaffrey in Newark, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

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Follow AP's pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.