As fears are growing over a new strain of the coronavirus spreading through the United Kingdom, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized federal officials for not banning all flights from the UK.
While international travel is severely curtailed due to the pandemic, a small number of flights make their way from the UK to the US on a daily basis.
"We have about six flights a day coming in from the U.K. and we have done absolutely nothing,” Cuomo said. “To me this is reprehensible because this is what happened in the spring. Coronavirus is in China. No it wasn't, it's in Europe. It came from Europe and we did nothing."
In response on Monday, Cuomo said that British Airlines and Delta agreed to test passengers for the coronavirus for all flights originating from the UK landing in New York. Still, Cuomo says, these measures aren't enough.
The United Kingdom has implemented some of its strongest lockdowns since the onset of the pandemic in recent days. While not much is known about the mutated strain of the virus, it is believed to spread more easily.
The new virus strain prompted Canada to block all incoming flights from the UK. France has also closed off travel from the UK.
"To our international friends and partners, I want to say very frankly that we understand your concerns and I hope everybody can see that as soon as we were briefed in UK government on the the fast transmissibility of this new strain, that I think 3:15 on Friday afternoon, we lodged all the necessary information with the World Health Organization and we took prompt and decisive action the very next day to curb the spread of the new variant," UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
Cuomo said that the US should add itself to the list of countries banning travel from the UK.
"Right now, this variant in the U.K. is getting on a plane and flying to JFK. Right now today,” Cuomo said. “One-hundred twenty countries require a test. We don't. Other European countries have done a ban. We haven't. And today that variant is getting on a plane and landing at JFK. How many times in life do you have to make the same mistake before you learn. Be one of the 120 countries that requires a test before you get on a plane to come to the U.S. This is the mistake we made."
The US State Department has not updated its UK travel advisory since August. There is a current Level 3 advisory, which advises Americans to reconsider travel to the UK due to the pandemic