Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city will be sending sheriff’s deputies to homes and hotels where travelers from the United Kingdom are staying to check that they’re complying with quarantine orders.
The new measure was announced during a Wednesday news conference and is in response to a new, more contagious strain of coronavirus that is spreading in the U.K.
De Blasio emphasized that the measure applies to every traveler coming from the U.K. and initially involves filling out a form at the airport notifying city officials that they’re entering the city. Each traveler will receive a commissioner’s order from the Department of Health which will direct them to quarantine.
“We’re going to provide them with that commissioner’s order, but there’s going to be a follow up direct home visit or hotel visit from the sheriff’s deputy to confirm that they are following the quarantine or if they are not they will be penalized,” de Blasio said.
“We can’t take chances with anyone who travels, particularly folks traveling in from the U.K.”
He added that the penalty for not following quarantine orders will be a $1,000 initial fine, and each additional day of non-compliance will cost $1,000.
“We don’t want to penalize people,” he said. “Everyone’s been through hell this year, we don’t want to. But if you don’t follow quarantine, you’re endangering everyone else in the city right as we’re fighting the second wave.”
De Blasio also urged residents to cancel travels and keep gatherings very small during the approaching Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations.
“This is one last sacrifice, and next year we can bring back our traditions and gather again as we take steps to keep each other safe.”
More than 40 countries have announced rules restricting travel from the U.K. since officials identified the mutant strain, which British scientists have confirmed is more contagious than previous strains. (RELATED: Here’s Everything We Know About The New Coronavirus Strain In The UK)
The U.S.’s leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said he assumes the strain is already in the U.S. because of the international travel between the two countries. The U.S. has not halted travel to or from the U.K.