Jamaica, NY:___Today, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams demanded greater restrictions on incoming travelers from the United Kingdom (UK) in response to the detection of a new contagious mutation of COVID-19 in the UK, which has prompted a wave of travel restrictions in various countries. On Monday, Governor Cuomo announced that three major airlines that transport travelers from the UK have agreed to require negative COVID tests from all passengers before they board a flight bound for New York City. At this morning’s press conference outside of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s Eastern Regional Office, just outside of John F. Kennedy International Airport, Borough President Adams echoed calls for the FAA to temporarily ban travelers from the UK to New York City to protect New Yorkers from the new mutation. Additionally, he presented his own request for the City and State to institute a mandatory quarantine for all travelers from the UK in all of the City’s metropolitan and regional airports, and for travelers to then be required to quarantine in a location designated and monitored by the government.
“As we face a likely second wave of COVID-19 here in New York, and as we anticipate a potential surge in cases due to the holidays, the threat of a new mutation first detected in the United Kingdom is a real cause for concern. All viruses mutate over time and new mutations are common, including for the novel coronavirus. While there is still much that is unknown about this new strain, it appears to be more contagious than other variants. We want to thank our friends across the Atlantic for being forthcoming about this new mutation. I believe we must take significant precautions to protect New Yorkers, which is why I am first and foremost calling for the FAA to temporarily ban incoming flights from the United Kingdom. Barring that, the City and State must institute more cautious quarantine measures for all travelers from the UK, the length and details of which should developed in close consultation with public health officials and informed by science. If the Federal government won’t do all it can to protect New Yorkers, I believe the City and State must step up with this additional layer of travel deterrence and basic security,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
A new variation of the novel coronavirus that appears to be more contagious, called B.1.1.7., was first detected in the UK in September. Since then, it has rapidly become the most common form of the virus in the country. By some estimates, B.1.1.7. has an increased transmission rate of 50 to 70 percent compared to other variations detected in the UK. It is unclear if the current vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech that have received approval from the Federal government immunizes against B.1.1.7., though most experts believe there is no cause for concern. There has been no indication as of yet that this new mutation is more deadly than other strains of COVID-19. It is also unclear if this COVID-19 mutation has arrived in the United States, although National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institute of Health (NIH) Director Anthony Fauci, MD recently stated in an interview that it is likely the new strain has already arrived in the US. It has been detected in places such as Australia, Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Several European countries, as well as Canada, India, Russia, Jordan, and Hong Kong, have already banned flights from the UK.
Less than two months ago, Governor Cuomo laid out guidelines that required out-of-state travelers
, from non-bordering states to get tested within three days prior to landing in New York, quarantine for at least three days upon arrival, and get a test on day four of that quarantine; if both tests came back negative, the traveler could exit quarantine. Borough President Adams noted the State’s guidelines have relied on an honor system that placed trust in travelers to immediately go into quarantine. Given the heightened risk associated with the new mutation, he said inbound passengers should be required to isolate immediately upon arrival, with stricter enforcement measures in place to ensure all travelers abide by the regulations.
A link to a livestream from the press conference earlier is available here.