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That trip to the Finger Lakes may have to wait.
After starting out as an early COVID hot spot, the tri-state area is wary of seeing cases spike. Here’s what to know if you plan to visit.
This is a developing story. This article was last updated on November 5.
The threat of COVID-19 in New York City is still very real—and emotions raw. You’ll see locals outside, be it in playgrounds or nursing a cold beer on the sidewalk, and they have masks and Clorox wipes at the ready. Ask anyone from the city and they’ll rattle off names of people they know who’ve been sick with coronavirus; they themselves might have had it. Which is why the former COVID-19 epicenter of the world, and by extension, the state of New York, neighboring New Jersey, and Connecticut, have cautiously reopened in lockstep together with restrictions in place.
That is, until October 31, when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the new guidelines for visitors and residents alike, dropping the 14-day quarantine in favor of a more uniform test-based system of entry amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s what you need to know about travel to the tri-state area.
The short answer: Both! “Starting November 4, travelers from out of state—and returning New Yorkers who left for more than 24 hours—will need to show two separate negative COVID tests and quarantine for at least three days on arrival,” reports AFAR’s Michelle Baran.
“There are a few exceptions: All travelers who were in a state other than neighboring New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts for more than 24 hours will need to receive a negative COVID-19 test result three days prior to departing that state. On arrival in New York, they must then quarantine for three days. On day 4, travelers will take another COVID-19 test and if the results are negative, they can exit quarantine.
“All travelers will be required to fill out a traveler information form when they arrive in New York that will assist with any necessary contact tracing.” Read the full story on the new testing process—and what to do if you test comes back positive.
If you’re coming from a current viral hot spot within the U.S., you’ll be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days and possibly face fines ($2,000–$10,000 in New York) and mandatory quarantine if you break isolation.
“The quarantine will apply to any state where 10 of every 100,000 people test positive on a rolling seven-day basis, or where the positivity rate in the total population is 10 percent, also on a seven-day rolling basis,” the governors of the three states said in a press release.
As of November 3, travelers to New Jersey or Connecticut from these 43 states and U.S territories are required to self-quarantine. This is the biggest quarantine list to date, with Oregon and Washington back on the list and U.S. average daily cases now up over 100,000.
Technically, “the infection rates of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut are high enough that they could be added to the list, although they have not been added, as [New York Governor Andrew] Cuomo said it would be too damaging to New York’s economy and difficult to enforce,” reports the Albany Times Union.
Travelers coming into New York by air, bus, train, or car are required to fill out a Traveler Health Form prior to arrival to ensure they’re following the state’s quarantine protocols. Travelers must list their contact information and the address of where they plan to quarantine.
As of July 14, “enforcement” teams will be stationed at airports around the state to greet passengers and request proof of completion; anyone leaving the airport without completing the form will be “subject to a $2,000 fine and may be brought to a hearing and ordered to complete mandatory quarantine,” according to the state.
New York is also treating this as an “if you see something, say something” situation: “To file a report of an individual failing to adhere to the quarantine pursuant to the travel advisory, please call 1-833-789-0470 or visit this website.”
For Connecticut, travelers from the identified states must also fill out a travel health form on arrival (ct.gov/travelform). They’ll have to self-quarantine at their home, hotel, or temporary lodging, and risk a $1,000 fine if they don’t, according to the Connecticut travel advisory.
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If you drive into New Jersey along one of its major highways (the NJ Turnpike or Garden State Parkway, for example), you may see a sign that advises you to call 511 for quarantine updates. The robo call will tell you the latest list of states that require quarantine, and though “the self-quarantine is voluntary,” the state advises, “compliance is expected. Travelers and residents returning from impacted states typically will not need to check-in with public health officials, unless they are otherwise involved in contact tracing efforts or required to do so by their employer or any other federal, state or local law or order. It is expected that individuals will follow the recommendation to self-quarantine.”
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said his state wouldn’t set up checkpoints along the state’s borders “but that the Department of Health would pursue cases of noncompliance if it became aware of them,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The travel advisory doesn’t apply to people passing through restricted states for a limited duration (less than 24 hours). If you’re stopping at a rest stop in a car, bus, or train, or you have a layover at an airport, you don’t need to self-quarantine, per New York State.
As of July 29, all regions—including New York City—were in phase four of reopening. Phase four means low-risk outdoor and indoor arts and entertainment (zoos, museums, and professional sports among them) can resume. Hotels across the state can operate with restrictions, and NYC’s hotels have begun to reopen in earnest. Residents and travelers alike are required to wear a mask and maintain a six-foot distance in public. Indoor dining at reduced capacity (25 percent) resumes September 30.
New Jersey is now in phase three of reopening, with expanded indoor dining, and the reopening of fitness centers, movie theaters, and schools. Swimming pools, nonessential retail stores, and portions of shopping malls are open; outdoor dining and gatherings of 500 people are also allowed. Casinos, amusement parks, and museums reopened on July 2. Hotels are open with restrictions.
Connecticut moved toward phase three of reopening on October 8. Hotels, amusement parks, museums, and indoor recreation businesses like movie theaters are currently open; restaurants are operating at 75 percent capacity indoors and 100 percent outdoors. Indoor performance venues can open at 50 percent capacity, but bars and nightclubs remain closed.
For all states, it’s worth checking the latest COVID-19 information on their sites before booking anything.
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