Nfld. & Labrador

"It's just absolutely magical': Tearful reunions aplenty as N.L. reopens to the rest of Canada

Non-essential travel, apart for periods allowing travelers from the Atlantic region, had been banned in Newfoundland and Labrador since May 4, 2020.

'I am just excited to be home, and overwhelmed, and really, really happy,' said Laura Muranyi

Brian Meaney and Laura Muranyi, father and daughter, embrace after months apart due to COVID-19. It was one of many such scenes at the airport this week. (Curtis Hicks/CBC)

This week hosted a rare sight for Newfoundland and Labrador, at least for the last two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At St. John's International Airport, loved ones were reunited after weathering the storm of COVID-19 apart.

For the first time since May 2020, people in Canada from outside the Atlantic region can enter the province without exemptions or a 14-day isolation period for non-essential travel.

But for people like Brian Meaney, who was there to meet his daughter's family, there was nothing non-essential about it.

Meaney peers through the window at the St. John's airport. It's the first time he's seen his grandchildren in months. (Curtis Hicks/CBC)

For Meaney, the pandemic meant being separated from his daughter, Laura Muranyi, and his two grandchildren, Annika and Kieran.

He has barely seen them for almost all of Kieran's lifetime. To have them staying with him, he said, means more than he can explain.

"It's just absolutely magical to have them all … and my own kids here, my older daughter, to have everybody under one roof for one night, that's all I ever wanted," Meaney said Friday.

"We FaceTime virtually every day, if possible, and Snapchat, and we talk on the phone. But it's nothing like when your kids are very small to hold them in your arms, play with them on the floor and just have fun."

Muranyi and her children, Keiran and Annika, are reunited with her father. (Curtis Hicks/CBC)

Although Muranyi's family was together in Ontario with her children, husband, and his family, she too felt the strain of separation.

"You know, we've missed home a lot and, you know, they always say it takes a village to raise a baby," she said. "So it's been really hard being in Ontario and Ottawa where there's been a lot of lockdowns."

Public health guidelines mean that no one who isn't travelling is allowed inside the airport; Meaney saw his grandchildren as they waved and ran to see him through the window.

It's a precious moment for Muranyi, and for Kieran as well, shifting a virtual connection back into the real world.

"He was born the month right before the pandemic. So he didn't remember my parents. They came last August, but he doesn't remember them. He just sees them on the iPhone, in the little box. So he keeps trying to turn it around to find where they are.

"I am just excited to be home, and overwhelmed, and really, really happy."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hawthorn

Journalist

Andrew Hawthorn is a writer and reporter working with the CBC in St. John's.

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