New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo appeared to push back against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s calls Tuesday to ban all flights from the UK to the US during a Tuesday press conference.

The governor called on the federal government to begin enforcing mandatory testing on all international passengers arriving in the US, like they are already doing with travelers from the UK, following the emergence of the ‘mutant’ strain of COVID-19 on Monday in upstate New York. 

Insisting the government ‘doesn’t need’ to impose blanket travel bans, the comments came in a seeming rebuttal to a plea made by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier Tuesday, who called for all trans-Atlantic flights to be halted. 

‘Not a travel ban, just test all international travelers before entry,’ Cuomo said. ‘Tell the airlines you have to test them before they got on a plane. Or if you land in this country, tell them we’re not going to allow you in until you take a test.’ 

De-Blasio had urged the Trump administration to ‘stop the madness’ and block all travel to and from the Britain to help stop any further spread of the new super-infectious UK variant of the virus.

The first US case of the strand was reported in a remote nursing home in Colorado last week. It has since also been discovered elsewhere in the state, as well as in Florida and California, with at least 10 people infected.   

De Blasio said ‘we all should be worried about [the new variant],’, clarifying that it isn’t more deadly, but it is more infectious.

‘We need the federal government to step up here and ban all travel from the US to the UK,’ he said. ‘It’s time to stop the half measures.’

De Blasio then went on to incorrectly state: ‘Right now you can still get on a plane in London and not even have proof you have a negative test, then come to New York City and merrily spread the disease. Why is that going on. Why?’

As of December 28, the CDC actually requires all airline passengers arriving from Britain – including US citizens – to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure. 

Dailymail.com has contacted de Blasio’s office for clarification on his comments.

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Gov. Cuomo said later Tuesday that a travel ban wasn’t needed, only mandatory testing for all international passengers before they arrive in the US

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio called for a tougher restrictions from the federal governnment in a bid to curb the spread, demanding a full travel ban from the UK to the US

De Blasio’s plea came during his daily press conference from City Hall on Tuesday

The UK's new variant of the virus is not more deadly but is around 50 percent more infectious. This chart from different regions from the UK shows how much more infectious the new super-COVID strain is in comparison to other virus variants

The UK’s new variant of the virus is not more deadly but is around 50 percent more infectious. This chart from different regions from the UK shows how much more infectious the new super-COVID strain is in comparison to other virus variants

De Blasio urged the White House to 'shut down the danger now' and stop all travel to and from the UK (Pictured: British travelers shown waiting to board flights at Heathrow Airport on Jan. 2)

De Blasio urged the White House to ‘shut down the danger now’ and stop all travel to and from the UK (Pictured: British travelers shown waiting to board flights at Heathrow Airport on Jan. 2)

During his press conference, de Blasio referred to the lack of a ban on travel to and from the UK as ‘madness’. 

He called on the federal government to implement a ban ‘right now’, insisting such a measure would ‘buy New York City time’ to get vaccinations done and properly protect residents.  

‘But if we don’t have a total ban, then we are literally inviting this horrible variant in the door even more – and that makes no sense,’ de Blasio said. ‘The inconvenience [the ban] poses to travelers pales in comparison to the danger this variant poses to all of us.’

The Empire State has become the fourth in the nation to detect the ‘mutant’ variant of the virus that began ravaging across the UK towards the end of last year, causing cases to surge and forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to announce a third nationwide lockdown Monday.

Cuomo identified the New York patient Monday as a male jewelry store worker in Saratoga Springs, who is in his 60s. The man did have COVID-19 symptoms but is ‘on the mend.’

Three other people linked to the jewelry store have also since tested positive for COVID-19, but Cuomo said it’s unknown if they have the variant. 

Much like the first US case of the variant in Colorado, the man had no recent travel history, suggesting a community spread. 

The CDC believes the strain first emerged in Britain in September and said last week it suspects it has been circulating in the US for some time. 

The strain is thought to be up to 50 percent more transmissible but not more deadly.  

It’s now reported in the UK that around one of every 50 residents – or roughly one million people – now has the coronavirus. 

In light of the surge, as of December 28, the CDC  began requiring all airline passengers arriving from Britain – including U.S. citizens – to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure. Unless a dual-citizen or travelling for essential purposes, the majority of Brits are currently banned from entering the US. 

The UK is also currently grappling with a second mutant strain of the virus, said to originate from South Africa, which experts fear may be resistant to vaccines and potentially more deadly.

That strain has not yet been detected in the US, and de Blasio made no reference to it during his Monday conference.  

Cuomo, meanwhile, has called on the White House to require all international passengers arriving in the US to provide negative COVID-19 tests before traveling. 

Insisting that government leaders are supposed to be ‘competent’ during his own briefing Tuesday, Cuomo asked: ‘Why do we not have mandatory testing of everyone flying into this country. I mean why not?’

Cuomo added that the USA doesn’t need to introduce a complete travel ban, in an apparent allusion to de Blasio’s comments, ‘just mandatory testing’.  

‘Just test all international travelers before entry,’ he said. ‘Tell the airlines you have to test them before they got on a plane. Or if you land in this country, tell them we’re not going to allow you in until you take a test.’

His comments seemed to mark a significant departure from remarks he made in a December press briefing, in which he stated it was ‘reprehensible’ that the US hadn’t yet enacted a total ban on UK air travel.

‘We have about six flights a day coming in from the UK [to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York] and we have done absolutely nothing,’ he said at the time. ‘Doing nothing is negligent. It’s grossly negligent.’ 

The super-contagious mutant strain of COVID-19 that has forced the UK into its third lockdown has already been detected in the US. Ten people spread across New York, California, Colorado and Florida have been confirmed to have the variant of the virus

The super-contagious mutant strain of COVID-19 that has forced the UK into its third lockdown has already been detected in the US. Ten people spread across New York, California, Colorado and Florida have been confirmed to have the variant of the virus

UK health authorities have recorded more than 50,000 new infections daily since passing that milestone for the first time on December 29

UK health authorities have recorded more than 50,000 new infections daily since passing that milestone for the first time on December 29

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS TO THE US? 

With specific exceptions for essential travel purposes, foreign nationals who have been residing in China, Iran, the UK, Republic of Ireland, Brazil, and most European countries for the past 14 days are banned from entering the United States. 

The European countries exempt include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City.   

US citizens or residency holders are permitted to return, though may be required to quarantine for 14 days. 

As of December 28, travelers to the US from the UK – including US citizens – must provide a negative test 72 before departure. 

A blanket requirement for negative testing is not yet in place for all international travel. 

The CDC recommends against traveling internationally during the pandemic. 

Those who do are urged to get tested 1-3 days both before they leave, and 1-3 days prior to their return.

The CDC also advises air passengers to check its website for any specific pre-travel requirements relative to their destination/where they’re arriving from.

Cuomo Tuesday went on to lament the fact that 140 countries either banned travel to and from the UK, or introduced mandatory negative tests prior to departure, ‘before the USA acted’. 

‘New York State acted before the USA,’ Cuomo bragged. ‘I called the airlines and said I want New York to be added to that list of 140 countries, and they added it.’

The Governor continued by saying what he finds ‘really infuriating’ is that ‘this is what happened to us last spring.’

‘The virus left China, it went on to Europe, it was in Italy, it went to the UK and people got on a plane and came to New York,’ he said. ‘That’s why New York had an explosion in cases.’

‘Now there’s a second strain and it came from the UK again,’ he continued, raising his voice. ‘Again the USA did absolutely nothing. If the USA won’t act then New York State will act,’ he said.

Cuomo added that with the virus being so much more transmissible, here’s fearful hospitalizations could skyrocket without immediate action.

‘Even if the lethality doesn’t go up, the fact that it is so much more transmittable is a very real problem,’ he said. ‘Apparently the UK strain can actually overtake the original COVID strain in a matter of weeks. That’s how quickly it can transmit.’

‘It dramatically increases our challenge and we have to be aware of it,’ he said.

Cuomo continued that he wouldn’t let the federal government turn New York into a ‘petri dish’ for the new variant, by allowing the virus to land in the state’s airports unchecked.  

Yesterday, a group of US airlines penned a letter to the White House also backing calls to implement a global testing program requiring negative tests before most international air passengers return to the US.

The letter was authored by Airlines for America (A4A), a trade group that represents most US airlines including international giants American, United and Delta, in which they also called on the officials to reopen borders to Britain, Europe and Brazil ‘as soon as possible’.

The group said the entry restrictions should be ‘removed concurrently with the testing program, which will provide yet another layer of safety in the travel journey’.

‘We believe a well-planned program focused on increasing testing of travelers to the United States will further these objectives in a much more effective way than the blanket travel restrictions currently in place,’ the airlines wrote. 

Within hours of the letter’s emergence, Boris Johnson announced Britain would be locking until at least mid-February. 

As a result, British officials have put a halt to all non-essential travel, including international air travel. Within the UK, domestic holidays are also banned.

The UK Government stressed that Britons currently abroad do not need to rush back to the UK. But ministers are poised to require a negative COVID-19 test for all UK arrivals to curb the spread of the disease.   

Insisting that government leaders are supposed to be ‘competent’ during his own briefing Tuesday, Cuomo asked: ‘Why do we not have mandatory testing of everyone flying into this country. I mean why not?’

The UK is also currently grappling with a second mutant strain of the virus, said to originate from South Africa, which experts fear may be resistant to vaccines and potentially more deadly

The UK is also currently grappling with a second mutant strain of the virus, said to originate from South Africa, which experts fear may be resistant to vaccines and potentially more deadly

The South African strain has not yet been detected in the US, and de Blasio made no reference to it during his Monday conference

The South African strain has not yet been detected in the US, and de Blasio made no reference to it during his Monday conference

De Blasio Tuesday also announced that up to 160 vaccination sites will be set up across the five boroughs of New York City by the end of the week.

New 24-hour ‘mass vaccination’ sites will also open across the Big Apple within ‘a few days’, the mayor pledged.   

Nationwide, the vaccine roll out has been hampered by a number of logistical hurdles, confusion over who can currently get a shot and a slowdown of jabs over the holiday season.

Data published by the CDC on Tuesday indicated that around 4.5 million people have so far received their first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in the US, which is well short of President Trump’s goal of 20 million by December’s end.

While frustration over the disappointing national roll-out out continues, disputes have emerged on a local level too – not least in New York.

During their respective Monday conferences, de Blasio and Cuomo exchanged a war of words regarding vaccine distribution and administration.

Come as the first time in sometime that the pair have been at odds over an issue, the feud was ignited when a spokesperson for the mayor accused Cuomo of ‘tough guy antics’. De Blasio then called the governor arrogant. 

The Mayor’s comments came in response to Cuomo’s threat earlier in the day to fine hospitals up to $100,000 if they fail to use their current vaccine inventories by the end of the week.

Cuomo also said hospitals would have to use their inventories within seven days of receipt from now on in, adding they could be disqualified from the program if they fail to do so.

The Governor said around 46 percent of hospitals statewide are yet to use their full vaccine allocations, blaming poor hospital management for the disappointing return.

De Blasio appeared to take offense at the criticism leveled towards the city’s public health system, calling on Cuomo to ‘respect and trust our health care professionals’.

Hizzoner doubled down on the backlash Tuesday, kicking off his press conference with a lengthy tribute to ‘our healthcare heroes’. 

‘This is a moment for cooperation. This is a moment for trust. This is a moment for partnership. What we need is the freedom to vaccinate,’ he said. 

‘We need to listen to our healthcare leaders and our healthcare workers who are saying, ‘Give us the flexibility to vaccinate more and more people. Let us have the ability to do our jobs the right way.’ Give them the freedom to vaccinate and they will vaccinate.’

De Blasio continued: ‘What they don’t need is to be shamed, what they don’t need is more bureaucracy, what they don’t need is the threat of fines.

‘If the state of New York says, ‘Well, you get $1 million fine if you move too quickly and you get a $100,000 fine if you move too slowly,’ that doesn’t get anyone anywhere. That just paralyzes people.’ 

Around 110,000 people in New York City have been vaccinated since inoculations began, but de Blasio is tipping immunizations to speed up in the weeks ahead.

The mayor called on the federal government to keep the supply chain steady and efficient, and blamed the governor for not expanding the option to more groups earlier.