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To prevent a resurgence of coronavirus infections, the state is requiring any travelers from states with hotspot outbreaks to abide by a 14-day quarantine and provide contact information or face a $2,000 fine.
Travelers flying into New York state will be required to provide their contact information and travel plans upon arrival or face a $2,000 fine.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the new requirement Monday as a measure to prevent a resurgence of coronavirus outbreaks in the state.
Once the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, New York has made dramatic progress slowing the spread of the virus and reducing the number of deaths in the state. Over the weekend, New York City marked its first day without a Covid-19 death since March.
Cuomo said the enhanced airport precautions are meant to help the state enforce its 14-day quarantine requirement on travelers from states that have become infection hotspots. Travelers from 22 states—places where 10% or more of coronavirus tests result in positive cases—are now required to quarantine for two weeks upon entering New York.
“We can’t be in a situation where we have people coming from other states in the country bringing the virus again,” Cuomo said. “It is that simple.”
State officials said enforcement teams that include law enforcement officers will be stationed at airport terminals to provide incoming travelers with the state’s health forms, which can also be accessed and filled out online. Anyone who refuses to fill out a form—which asks for the traveler’s name, contact information and data about where and how long they will stay in New York— will face a $2,000 fine and could be required to attend a hearing and complete a mandatory quarantine.
Republican lawmakers in the state questioned whether the requirement to complete the forms is legal.
“This overreach of power violates the civil liberties of New Yorkers and citizens across this country, who do not need the government to threaten fines and quarantines in order to travel responsibly,” said New York state Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt. “This is putting an unwelcome mat at New York’s door. Such severe action will keep people and their dollars away, at a time when our businesses need them most.”
It remains unclear how the state will ensure that visitors who complete the forms abide by the 14-day quarantine.
New York is not the first state to require a quarantine for visitors from states with high Covid-19 case counts. Rhode Island, which first implemented its requirement against travelers from New York when it was the coronavirus hot spot, still maintains a mandate. Now, however, people visiting Rhode Island must quarantine if they come from any state with a positivity rate higher than 5%, although it can be skipped with a recent negative test result.
The tactic has also been heavily deployed in Hawaii throughout the pandemic, with locals aiding authorities in tracking down tourists who do not abide by the 14-day quarantine requirements. Airport officials contact tourists’ hotel or housing accommodations to verify they have arrived and workers from the state’s tourism office are deployed to verify that visitors are abiding by the rules. When workers cannot contact a visitor, they notify law enforcement.
Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent with Route Fifty.