British Airways passengers arriving in New York from the United Kingdom will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to departure. The news comes in the wake of the development of a highly contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus that has spread rapidly in the U.K.
On Monday, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state’s new agreement with British Airways for travelers arriving into New York to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test. British Airways currently flies from London Heathrow (LHR) to New York’s Kennedy International Airport (JFK).
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At this time, the negative test requirement only applies to British Airways passengers, not those traveling with other airlines. However, it’s likely that the requirement will be extended to those traveling with other airlines.
“Starting tomorrow British Airways will require passengers on U.K. flights to NY to show a negative COVID test before departure,” Cuomo said in a tweet. “We are in conversations with Delta and Virgin Atlantic to do the same.”
Starting tomorrow @British_Airways will require passengers on UK flights to NY to show a negative COVID test before departure.
We are in conversations with Delta and Virgin Atlantic to do the same.
We can’t let history repeat itself with this new virus variant.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) December 21, 2020
Since the news of the new variant of the COVID-19 virus came out of the U.K., nearly 50 countries have banned flights to and from the U.K., including Italy, Germany and France. Other countries now require that all U.K. arrivals have a negative COVID-19 test. The new strain has already been found in Italy.
Related: Chaos in the UK following new travel bans and flight cancellations to slow spread of new coronavirus strain
Cuomo called on the federal government to consider a mandatory negative test for all travelers coming to the U.S. on flights from the United Kingdom. Additionally, Cuomo has pushed for a travel ban from Europe.
“It’s high time the federal government takes swift action, because today that variant is getting on a plane and landing in JFK, and all it takes is one person,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Since March, the Trump administration has banned non-nationals from entering the U.S. if they’re traveling from Europe, China, Iran and Brazil. While there were reports in November that the government was considering removing that ban for travelers coming from Europe, nothing has been made official.
If the federal government were to go ahead with a ban on flights from Europe, it could affect all travelers attempting to fly from the continent to the U.S., not just non-nationals.
As of Sunday, all of London and much of the southeast of England is under strict Tier 4 restrictions. Under the new, most-extreme tier in the country, all non-essential shops must close. Additionally, the government has implemented a “stay at home” message.
Those who need to travel for work, education or childcare are exempt from the Tier 4 restrictions.
Featured photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images.
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