San Antonio family excited to welcome back loved one from Japan after international travel ban lifted

Many celebrate end of international travel ban with airplane ticket purchase

SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. hit a milestone in the pandemic this week. The international travel ban has ended, opening the doors to vaccinated tourists and family reunions.

For the past 20 months, families have celebrated weddings, holidays, births and even somber occasions through a screen due to pandemic restrictions. However, more than a year and a half of uncertainty finally came to an end this week. On Nov. 8, the federal government announced the end of the international travel ban that began with China in February 2020.

In San Antonio, many families began preparing reunions the moment it was announced.

The last time Jannett Brumley hugged her brother, Alex Poe, was in October 2019, as he departed for Japan.

“I had originally moved (to Japan) with the idea that I was going to be going back home every year,” Poe said.

That wasn’t the case, however. His plans of meeting his first nephew, who was born in December of that year, shifted to Zoom.

“The first thing that I thought about (when COVID-19 began to spread) was my nephew,” Poe said. “I realized that I wouldn’t get to meet him for a whole year.”

It turns out he’d have to wait more than two years to meet him.

Alex Poe celebrated Christmas with family via Zoom due to pandemic restrictions. Soon, he'll reunite with family in San Antonio. (Jannett Brumley)

“On a video chat, I think sometimes he recognizes me,” Poe said.

Poe immediately purchased his ticket back home to San Antonio on Monday. His sister can hardly wait for the reunion and to see her firstborn finally hug his uncle.

“Just to even hear that number is (crazy) -- twenty months! Brumley said. “It’s, like, exactly how old Joshua is. It (has) definitely (been) unique, but we made the most of it, you know… (Alex has) put in so much effort to know Joshua, or Nugget (as well call him).”

Poe is also excited about a San Antonio culinary staple.

“Other than (see) my family, the first thing I was to do is get good Mexican food. You can’t find that in Japan,” Poe said.

The family plans to welcome Poe back at the San Antonio International Airport by Christmas Day. Although Poe has two weeks of vacation, he will only be home for one as Japan and other countries still require pre-arrival testing and 10 days of quarantine.

About the Authors:

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.