Due to a new and highly contagious strain of COVID-19 spreading in the United Kingdom, three airlines will now require all passengers from the UK to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to test negative before flying.
The new strain is not considered deadlier than other strains, but it’s up to 70 percent more contagious, leading to growing case numbers in the UK. In response, countries around the world have temporarily halted flights from the UK. The United States hasn’t taken that step yet, but airlines are taking matters into their own hands with a new testing program.
Delta, Virgin Atlantic, and British Airways announced on Monday that PCR tests will be required before passengers will be allowed to fly to the US. The new procedures are the result of a request from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is seeking to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in New York.
A Delta spokesperson said, “All Delta customers traveling from the U.K. to New York will be required to take a PCR test 72 hours prior to departure adding another layer of safety when they travel. Delta will work closely with the Governor’s office in the coming days to implement his request.”
British Airways plans to implement the new testing policy on December 22, while Virgin Atlantic and Delta will begin testing on December 24. Passengers planning to depart the UK this week are urged to check airlines’ websites for the most up-to-date information.