Delta, British Airways, Virgin to Now Require Negative COVID-19 Tests for UK Travelers Heading to NY

Passengers at Delta terminal

Several airlines have agreed to require proof of a negative COVID-19 test for passengers flying from the United Kingdom to New York after the state's Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted the U.S. for not joining dozens of other nations in cutting off travel following the news of a new coronavirus strain across the pond.

Virgin Atlantic, Delta Air Lines, and British Airways have all agreed to test people before they get on a flight to New York, Cuomo said in an interview with CNN on Monday. The move comes after a new, and potentially more contagious, strain of coronavirus has been spreading in the UK, causing dozens of countries across Europe and the world to implement new travel bans. The new strain is reported to be up to 70% more transmissible but does not appear to be more deadly than other strains.

“I acted proactively, frankly, for New York… We've learned this lesson before and that's what's frustrating,” Cuomo said. “The way we got COVID in the spring was the federal government thought the coronavirus was still in China. It had gone to Europe and it came here from Europe. This is almost redox.”

The new testing requirements are in addition to the ones New York already employed, which require anyone coming from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Level 2 or Level 3 country to get tested for COVID-19 within three days of their departure, quarantine in New York for three days before being allowed to get tested again on the fourth day. The UK is currently categorized as the highest advisory: “Level 4: COVID-19 Very High.”

It’s also in line with the CDC’s own testing guidelines for international travelers, which recommend they get tested one to three days before flying to the U.S. — and delay their travel if they have not yet received the results — self-quarantine for a week, and get tested again three to five days after arriving in the country.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN that he would advise against a travel ban on the UK just yet.

Cuomo's deal with airlines is solely for flights coming into New York and does not apply to flights heading to other U.S. cities.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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