New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who once referred to President Trump’s ban on travel from China as racist and xenophobic, is singing a different tune when it comes to Great Britain. Now that there’s supposedly a new strain of COVID on the other side of the pond, Hizzoner has ordered that any travelers arriving from the UK be greeted by representatives of the Health Department, made to fill out a contact tracing form, and told they must quarantine themselves for two weeks. Those who don’t comply with the quarantine order will face a $1,000 fine for each day of noncompliance. And they’re not stopping there. (CBS New York)

With a new more contagious strain raising concerns, Mayor Bill de Blasio is stepping up quarantine enforcement in the city, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.

Now, all travelers coming into New York City will be greeted by the city Department of Health with a warning: either quarantine or face a fine.

“Filling out a form to let them know that I guess they track your whereabouts. That was easy, too. Only took two minutes on the internet,” one traveler said.

Mayor de Blasio further stated that he was going to have New York City Sheriff’s Deputies “visit the homes or hotel rooms” of every traveler arriving from the United Kingdom. This is apparently meant to ensure that nobody is sneaking out until the quarantine period has passed.

As the Post notes, these measures come on top of the deal that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo already worked out with the airlines. They’ve agreed that anyone flying from the UK to New York City must have a clean COVID test and provide proof of that before boarding the flight.

None of these precautions appear to take into account the fact that neither New Jersey nor Connecticut has put similar restrictions in place. That means that people flying into the region via Newark and then taking a cab into the city won’t show up on the inspection list. Also, people who do fly into JFK but immediately head out for a hotel in either of those states won’t be subject to restrictions either.

I’ll freely confess that I was pretty nervous when I first heard about the “new” strain of COVID in the UK that’s supposedly more transmissible. That’s all we need on top of everything else, right? But after doing some reading I learned that the various strains of the disease that are now making the rounds aren’t really all that much different from each other. Further, the vaccines currently being rolled out are supposedly going to be just as effective against all of the currently known strains. Granted, a different group of doctors has expressed concerns that the vaccine might “not work quite as well” on it, whatever that means. But in any event, the key difference between the current strain and the new British one is supposedly the ease with which it spreads, not some higher mortality rate or more serious symptoms. That’s not great news, but I also don’t think there are a bunch of text message conversations going on along these lines:

Oh, no! I just heard you tested positive for COVID. I’m so sorry.

Thanks, but it’s okay. It’s not the British strain.

Oh, okay. Cool.

I realize we can’t expect these politicians to sit on their hands and do nothing when responding to breaking news about the novel coronavirus. At the same time, though, I can’t help but think back to the bad old days in February and March when Democrats across the country were claiming that travel restrictions don’t do any good and they were just excuses for racist and xenophobic behavior. But now everyone wants to look like a COVID-fighting superhero and no measure is too much to ask in the name of battling the coronavirus monster. Perhaps the public would be better served if they all just focused on getting people vaccinated as quickly as possible.