New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an aggressive new measure aimed at keeping a new variant of the coronavirus that is sweeping across London and southern England from spreading to the largest city in the United States.
The mayor said effective immediately, law enforcement officials will be deployed across the city to enforce its 14-day quarantine for anyone flying into New York City from the United Kingdom.
“We cannot take chances with anyone that travels, particularly folks who travel in from the U.K.,” de Blasio said during a press briefing Wednesday.
“Given that particular concern, we’re going to have sheriff’s deputies go to the home or the hotel of every single traveler coming in from the U.K.,” de Blasio added.
Like all travelers coming into the city, people from the U.K. will receive an order from the New York City Department of Health directing them to quarantine.
The order, the mayor said, will come through certified mail.
“Then there’s going to be a follow-up direct home visit or hotel visit from the sheriff’s deputy to confirm they are following the quarantine,” de Blasio added. “Or if they do not, they will be penalized.”
He said those who don’t follow the quarantine protocols will be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 per day.
The mayor underscored that New Yorkers have suffered greatly from the impacts of the coronavirus and that at one point during the spring New York state was the nation’s epicenter for new confirmed infections and deaths.
“We don’t want to penalize people. Everyone’s been through hell this year,” de Blasio added. “But if you don’t follow the quarantine, you’re endangering everyone else in the city, right as we are fighting this second wave.”
New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito said that in addition to informing travelers of the quarantine protocols, deputies will tell them what services are provided, including assistance with food, housing “or anything that will help them through their quarantine.”
The deputies will also be issuing the notices of violations of quarantine, Fucito added.
The new coronavirus variant discovered in the U.K. has scientists concerned because it appears to be more contagious than the various strains already circulating. There still remains no evidence suggesting that the new variant is deadlier.
Since U.K. officials announced the presence of the new variant of the virus, more than 40 countries worldwide have banned travelers from the United Kingdom. Those restrictions also caused miles-long traffic jams at ports and tunnels on both sides of the English Channel as cargo shipments were idled.
Earlier Wednesday, France announced it had reopened its borders to travelers and truck drivers from the U.K., so long as they could prove they tested negative for the coronavirus within the previous 72 hours.