'FaceTime's not the same as a hug:' Families reunited as US/UK border restrictions lift

"FaceTime isn't it the same as a hug," Karen Tyler said she was "so happy" to see her son Jonathan again after nearly two years

There were emotional scenes at Heathrow airport on Monday as families and friends were reunited after travel restrictions between the UK and the United States and most European Union countries were lifted.

From 4am on Monday, travellers would no longer have to quarantine on arrival if they have been double vaccinated against Covid-19.

Karen Tyler from Rutland said she was "so happy" and "overwhelmed" to be reunited with her son Jonathon after nearly two years.

"It's been so long. FaceTime isn't it the same as a hug. Two years, nearly two years," she said.

Jonathan, who had flown in from Houston, Texas, last visited in Christmas 2019. He had had two previous visits cancelled due to the restrictions and said he was looking forward to "cups of tea and a roast".

"He is going to be spoilt so much, I'm not going to let him go," his mother said.

"They're arriving any minute," Sue and Michael wait to be reunited with their family after 18 months

Sue and Michael Blake were at Heathrow to meet their son, daughter-in-law and their youngest grandchild who live in New York. Mr and Mrs Blake said they would usually fly to the States to visit their family every two or three months but it had been 18 months since they last saw them.

Another person enjoying isolation-free travel was Reece Wilson who was reunited with his parents and brother Mitchell after flying in from New Orleans for the first time in nearly three years.

He told ITV News it was "unreal" to be back and would not take being able to visit "for granted again".

His parents had not seen their grandchildren for 22 months.

"Welcome home" - Emotional scenes at Heathrow as loved ones are reunited

Mitchell said it was "fantastic" to see his niece and nephew again. "We're going to have a fabulous time."Debbie Greaves said it was "amazing" for her son Josh who was visiting for a month after not being able to see his family for a year. He said it had been "rough" but it was "lovely" to be back.

All travellers entering the UK from green list locations do not have to self-isolate. Those from amber list locations, such as the US, Jamaica, Spain, Italy and Greece, must have had both doses of a coronavirus jab as part of the UK’s vaccination programme to avoid the requirement to self-isolate for 10 days.

Travellers will be required to take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test on or before the second day after their arrival.

The exemption from quarantine for double-jabbed travellers also applies to European countries Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and Vatican City.

Those vaccinated in the US will also need to provide proof of US residency.

Those returning from France however will still be subject to quarantine rules due to the country's coronavirus situation.

Exemptions will not apply to any country added to the UK's red list of travel destinations.

Despite the relaxation of quarantine requirements, uncertainty continues around international travel, with Boris Johnson being warned not to create a new category in the traffic light system.

The rumoured amber watchlist would apply to countries at risk of being moved into the red category – which requires hotel quarantine for 10 days at a cost of £1,750 for an adult.

Reports have suggested there is a fallout among Cabinet ministers over proposals to introduce an amber watchlist, designed to warn travellers of the possibility that countries with concerning coronavirus data – which could potentially include Italy and Spain – could be put onto the red list at short notice.