Travelers arriving to New York City from the United Kingdom will be directed to quarantine, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday, in light of the new COVID-19 spreading across the southern part of the country.
“Literally every single traveler coming in from the United Kingdom will receive the Department of Health commissioner’s order directing them to quarantine,” said de Blasio. The document, which will be sent via certified mail to the homes or hotels of travelers, will be sent to all travelers and not just those coming from the UK de Blasio clarified.
Given the concern over the new strain of COVID in the UK, deputies from the New York City Sheriff’s Office will visit the homes or hotels to check up on travelers coming from the United Kingdom de Blasio said. Travelers who violate quarantine could be fined up to $1,000 and could be charged an additional $1,000 for every additional day the quarantine is broken.
“We don’t want to penalize people, everyone has been through hell this year,” said de Blasio. “ But if you don’t follow quarantine you’re endangering everyone else in the city right as we are fighting the second wave.”
The new strain, called B.1.1.7, was first seen in southern parts of the United Kingdom in September and by early December 62% of new COVID cases in London were due to variant, according to the UK government’s chief scientific advisor Patrick Vallance.
The variant has a high number of mutations–23 in total–including to a chain of amino acids called a ” spike protein” which allows the virus to more easily attach to host cells. Early research suggests the strain is 70% more transmissible than the early versions of the virus.
The mayor’s announcement comes as COVID-19 numbers continue to climb in the city. On Wednesday, de Blasio reported 224 New York City residents admitted to a hospital for suspected COVID-19 surpassing his 200 daily threshold. In addition, the daily COVID-19 positivity rate based on a seven-day rolling average for the city is 6.19%, a 0.31% increase from yesterday’s numbers, and the total number of confirmed and probable new cases of the virus are 2,789.
De Blasio added the city’s overall hospitalization rate for Wednesday is 3.19 per 100,000 people. ” We have a lot of work to do and these next weeks are going to be amongst the most challenging and we’ve got to really work hard to make sure that number does not keep growing,” he said.