Image caption: “I don’t want to let her go,” said Sue, meeting her daughter for the first time in more than 19 months
“Oh my goodness!”
That was the moment Naomi Hooper, who lives with her husband and two children in San Diego, laid eyes on her parents for the first time since December 2019.
She rushed into the arms of mother Sue Johns and father Peter, hugging them tightly as they sobbed behind their masks. Naomi briefly broke off with a laugh to say: “Stiff upper lip!”. But the tears soon flowed again.
The BBC had travelled to meet Sue and Peter at Heathrow Airport to catch their reunion as the UK relaxed quarantine rules on people fully vaccinated in the US and EU.
Sue said she hadn’t been able to sleep with excitement. She had previously launched a diplomatic campaign to try and visit her grandson and granddaughter in the US, which still bans UK travellers. She wrote to the president and vice-president, along with the governor of California and the UK transport secretary.
“This isn’t tourism, I don’t want to go for a holiday, I want to go and see my family,” she said. “We’ll quarantine, we’ll take tests every day, we’ll do whatever we need to do. And I know I’m not alone.”
Image caption: “Thank goodness for the masks,” said Naomi Hooper. “Not too much ugly crying.”
Peter said it had been “torturous” missing key moments in their grandchildren’s lives. “The granddaughter just lost her first tooth and I think last time we saw her she had gained her first tooth,” he said.
Naomi said: “I really didn’t think it was possible to come home until I stepped off the plane, I didn’t think it was going to happen.”
She said she hoped the US would open up travel for vaccinated British travellers so her parents could spend time with her son and daughter, who had to stay home with her husband.
In the meantime, she was looking forward to hugging her grandmother and meeting her niece, who is almost two years old, for the first time.
“I probably won’t want to leave in eight days,” she said. Her father replied: “It’s quite cold, so you might.”
Image caption: Sue and Peter Johns said they hope the US opens up to vaccinated UK travellers
Originally Appeared On: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-58053529