Separated due to coronavirus restrictions, a German-Brazilian couple found their way to each other after Germany eased border controls for unmarried couples provided they prove their relationships preceded the pandemic.
Florian Mehler, 41, from Wiesloch near Frankfurt, had not seen his girlfriend Renata Alves, 40, since she returned to her native Brazil in January after visiting him in Germany.
"We had to get so much paperwork together, unbelievable," said Mehler after he hugged Alves at Frankfurt airport. "I did ask myself why couples didn't count, as the love we have is the same as with married couples. But now she is finally here!"
Most European Union borders have been closed to non-EU travelers since March unless they are essential workers or married to an EU resident.
Berlin's decision to allow people from countries it considers a high coronavirus risk, such as Brazil, to join their German partners followed a social media campaign under the hashtags #LoveIsEssential and #LoveIsNotTourism.
Hopes to Explore Unseen Parts of Germany
The campaign, organized by the association of binational families and partnerships, also held a small rally in Frankfurt on August 1 which Mehler attended. Alves took a coronavirus test at the airport and will stay at Mehler's home until the results come in. "If it is negative we will get out and about a bit. And show her the parts of Germany that she hasn't seen yet," Mehler said.
After meeting online a year ago, Alves had visited Mehler in Germany twice, and he flew to see her in Brazil once. She has the necessary documents to move to Germany and look for a job. "My country is like one big risk but I am healthy," said Alves, who spoke to her boyfriend via FaceTime every day while they were apart.
(With inputs from agencies)