Effective immediately, international travelers arriving in New York will have to enter a mandatory two-week quarantine upon arriving, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at his press conference on Wednesday.
The quarantine will be enforced by the office of the sheriff, who will be sending deputies to check on them and ensure they are obeying quarantine, and provide resources if the person needs, such as food delivery or a room in a quarantine hotel if they live with others.
Passengers flying in from the UK are required to have proof of a negative test in order to board an airplane.
All passengers will be served orders via email explaining the requirements from health commissioner in the airport, and are expected to go immediately from the airport to their homes or to a quarantine hotel.
If they fail to abide by the quarantine, they will be slapped with a thousand dollar fine for every day they were not in quarantine.
“We have the power to be very aggressive to ensure people will be following the quarantine,” de Blasio warned.
The aggressive move comes as fears mount a new strain of the coronavirus is traveling to the U.S. from the United Kingdom. The new strain is significantly more infectious, and prompted Britain to hastily enact a lockdown and several European countries to slam their borders shut to British travelers.
Even though it is unclear if the UK strain has arrived in the U.S., New York City is struggling with a steady and significant increase in coronavirus cases. The city is racing against the clock to vaccinate, with tens of thousands of healthcare workers, EMTs, and nursing home residents vaccinated.
“The best gift you can give to the people you love is to make sure you can gather together next year, in 2021,” said de Blasio, pleading with people to stay home and avoid gathering with family and friends. “The next weeks are going to be among the most challenging.”
The city’s current 7-day rolling average is 6.91%, “way too high” above the 5% warning threshold.