NEW YORK – In a press conference, Governor Cuomo, along with a Zoom conferenced-in Governor Murphy and Governor Lamont, announced a major decision: ‘All individuals traveling from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 into NY,NJ or CT must quarantine for 14 days.” While visitors from international countries have been banned since March, the three governors are now implementing restrictions on domestic travel.
New York isn’t the first state to do this – Maine, for example, also has a mandatory quarantine period for outsiders – but combined with New Jersey and Connecticut, it is the first region. And the most populous one at that: the tri-state area has over 23 million people. Regulating entry will have a tremendous effect on tourist and business travel, as well as its own residents’ freedom of movement.
It’s also reflective of COVID-19’s latest trajectory: While New York has managed to flatten its curve, the pandemic is rapidly spreading in other parts of the country. Yesterday, seven states reported their largest hospitalization rate since the pandemic began.
‘In New York we went from the highest number of cases to some of the lowest rates in the country – no one else had to bend the curve as much as we did and now we have to make sure that the rate continues to drop in our entire region’, Governor Cuomo said. ‘We’ve been working thin entire pandemic, and we’re announcing a joint travel advisory that says people coming in from states with a high infection rate must quarantine for 14 days. We’ve worked very hard to get the viral transmission rate down and we don’t want to see it go up again because people are traveling into the state and bringing it with them’.
But how, exactly, will this quarantine work?
First thing’s first: it currently applies to travelers from nine states – Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington. However, more may be added in the future, depending on their COVID-19 outbreak levels. According to the Governor’s office, it will pertain ‘to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7 –day rolling average or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7 day rolling average’.
Enforcing the measures is another question. The three state plan to broadcast the message across highway, airports, and official social media accounts.
They are also asking hotels to clearly communicate the quarantine rule to their guests. Those caught violating it in New York might be fined – $2,000 for the first issue of first violation, $5,000 for the second, and up to $10,000 if you cause harm. ‘If you go to a hotel and a hotel clerk asks how come you are not in quarantine, you go to a business meeting and somebody says aren’t you supposed to be in quarantine, you’re stopped by a police officer who says you’re driving a car from a Florida license, weren’t you supposed to be a quarantine 14 days, any of those mechanism you can be detected as violating your quarantine’, Governor Cuomo said. ‘You could have to pay the costs’. While these types of fines show that the New York government is taking the risk seriously, the question of fair enforcement remains.
Time will tell how strictly New York enacts their own measures. In Hawaii another state with a mandatory quarantine, incoming visitors had their hotel arrangements verified by officials. Then, they were subject to follow up calls from the Hawaii Tourism Authority to make sure they were abiding by the rules. If no one could reach them, law enforcement could be, and sometimes was, notifies. So, if you planned to visits the City this summer – alternate plans should be in order.