ALBANY (TNS) — The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are requiring a 14-day quarantine for any individuals crossing their state lines from states with high rates of coronavirus.
The joint travel advisories is a reversal of circumstance after they originally suffered the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the nation and now have seen the spread shift to states in the South and West.
In fact, Florida and some other states three months ago warned against residents from New York traveling to their states and spreading the virus, which has killed more than 24,700 New Yorkers, the most in the nation.
Florida still has a 14-day quarantine order in place for travelers from areas “with substantial community spread, to include the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York).”
Now the tri-state area has put the same restrictions on Florida, California, Texas and 13 other states.
“It’s only for the simple reason that we worked very hard to get the viral transmission rate down,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
“We don’t want to see it go up because a lot of people come into this region and they could literally bring the infection with them. It wouldn’t be malicious or malevolent, but it would still be real.”
Here’s a look at how the quarantine in New York will work.
WHAT DOES THE QUARANTINE ORDER DO?Anyone coming from states with high rates of COVID-19 infection is being directed to voluntarily quarantine for 14 days when they come to New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
That includes people who live in the three states, but come back from states with high infection rates.
While in quarantine, travelers must avoid being in public and remain in a home or hotel room for two weeks, according to New York’s guidance. Each person or family group is required to have separate living quarters with a separate bathroom.
Food can be delivered, and garbage can be left outside the room or home for pickup.
FOR HOW LONG?It took effect Thursday, June 25. There’s no end at this point. New York’s order allows state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to decide when to rescind the policy.
WHICH STATES ARE AFFECTED?Cuomo said it applies to any state that has more than 10 positive COVID-19 tests per every 100,000 residents on a rolling seven-day average. It also applies if 10% of tests come back positive.
When the order was first issued, it applied to eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Texas.
On Tuesday, eight more states were added: California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee.
Washington state was originally included on the list but was removed after clearing up a data discrepancy, according to Cuomo’s office.
That list of states could change on a weekly basis.
IS THE QUARANTINE VOLUNTARY?Cuomo’s order says affected travelers are “required” to quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival to New York. But travelers will be expected to “self-quarantine” at first, meaning they will voluntarily isolate in a home or a hotel room.
If New York finds out someone isn’t complying, Cuomo said the state could seek a judicial order to make the quarantine mandatory.
Cuomo said the goal is to encourage people to quarantine when they arrive so they limit the virus’ spread in states where the rates have been minimal.
WHAT IF YOU DON’T COMPLY?Cuomo made it clear the states are not going to stop people from entering their borders.
But if a person is caught not complying, they could be subject to a Health Department order and a mandatory quarantine.
There are also potential fines, he said, starting at up to $2,000 for the first violation; up to $5,000 for the second and up to $10,000 thereafter.
WHO WILL ENFORCE THE QUARANTINE?There isn’t going to be quarantine police on every road into town, Cuomo stressed.
But if someone comes to the states for work or for pleasure and are known to not be following the order, they could be reported to law enforcement or health officials for further action.
“A quarantine doesn’t stop people. It’s not that you ever prohibited someone from entering a state. That is not a quarantine. That is a blockade,” Cuomo said.
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will also use uniform parameters and messaging on highways, airports, websites and social media to promote the quarantine.
They will also ask hotels to communicate the 14-day quarantine to guests who have traveled from one of the impacted states.
WHAT HAPPENS AT AIRPORTS?If you’re flying into New York from the states where a quarantine is required, you might be reminded of the order when you arrive. This week, some airlines have been distributing New York Health Department questionnaires to travelers that are voluntary to complete.
But again, Cuomo said, no one is blocking anyone from coming to the state or taking any immediate action against them.
WHAT ABOUT SPORTS TEAMS AND ESSENTIAL WORKERS?The MLB season is expected to start in late July, and the New York Yankees and Mets are holding their training camps in their home stadiums.
Cuomo HAS suggested the state’s quarantine order will apply to the professional sports leagues.
Sports teams from in state and out of state would have their own health protocols to prevent the virus’ spread, Cuomo said. He noted he struck a deal with the Mets and Yankees to come back to New York last week, before he issued his quarantine advisory.
“Even in the quarantine, the health commissioner has authority to deal with special circumstances,” Cuomo said on WAMC-FM.
The governor’s order, released late Wednesday, did include an exception for first responders and other essential workers coming to New York.
The state Health Department’s guidance includes rules for those workers who are in for a short, medium or long-term stay, including requiring them to avoid being in public as much as possible.