Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plans to no longer require domestic travelers to New York to quarantine starting next month, calling the lifting of the coronavirus safety restriction “reckless.”
“I don’t know if this is the state’s idea of an April Fools’ joke, but it’s absolutely the wrong thing to do. It’s reckless,” de Blasio said during a City Hall press briefing, adding, “We’re making progress, let’s not unwind it.”
“If someone is not vaccinated, you should follow the same process that has been followed to date. That’s what our health care leaders believe makes sense. If you need to quarantine, you need to quarantine,” Hizzoner said.
Cuomo announced Thursday that domestic travelers to the Empire State will no longer be required to quarantine beginning April 1, but that the state Health Department is still recommending that those travelers do so voluntarily “as an added precaution.”
Mandatory quarantine will remain in effect for international travelers.
Under Cuomo’s previous mandate, which went into effect in November, out-of-state travelers arriving in New York were required to quarantine for three days before getting a coronavirus test. If that test came back negative, they were permitted to leave lockdown.
Travelers were also required to get a negative COVID-19 test within the three days prior to heading to New York under that mandate.
“We were all surprised, in fact, shocked when we heard this,” de Blasio said about the rule change. “It makes no sense to relax such a fundamental standard when we’re still fighting this war and we got the [COVID-19] variants on top of that.”
De Blasio suggested that the governor’s rollback of the quarantine rule could still be changed amid a chorus of calls for Cuomo’s resignation tied to the sexual harassment and nursing home scandals he’s embroiled in.
“I don’t think anything in Albany is a done deal right now,” de Blasio said. “I think a lot of things are changing rapidly in Albany and anything can be [reversed] that was done wrong.”
City health officials also slammed the relaxing of the quarantine rule.
“We feel really strongly that we need every weapon on our side to fight back against the coronavirus,” said Dr. Jay Varma, de Blasio’s senior adviser for public health.
“The virus is using evolution on its side to develop new variants, new ways to be more infectious, so we need all of the tools that we have available to us,” added Varma, who said earlier this week that infectious variants of the coronavirus now make up more than half of COVID-19 cases in the Big Apple.
Varma continued, “Throughout this epidemic we have seen the travel-associated cases have represented anywhere from 5 to 10 percent of all the cases we see here in New York City — that may not seem like a lot, but as we know, even one case can lead to an outbreak and spread, so we need everything on our side at this point.”
City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi explained that the quarantine rule “has been a critical tool in our fight” against the coronavirus crisis.
“Now is just the time for us to be recommitting and redoubling our efforts when the idea that we can turn the corner on the pandemic is finally in our sight,” Chokshi said.