New York City will set up “COVID-19 checkpoints” at key entry points this week to ensure compliance with the state’s quarantine requirements, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday. Travelers to New York from 35 states currently on the travel advisory list, which includes places with 10 infections per 100,000 residents on a seven-day rolling average, must quarantine for 14 days. Starting Wednesday, the Sheriff’s Office will be deployed at bridges, tunnels, and busy transit hubs to remind visitors of the mandatory quarantine. The new initiative comes as about 20 percent of new coronavirus cases in New York City are from people traveling in from other states, according to Dr. Ted Long, head of the Test & Trace Corps.
“The idea is, we don’t want to penalize people, we want to educate them,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference on Wednesday. “We want to make sure they’re following the rules.”
The Sherriff’s office will conduct random stops of vehicles entering the city to remind drivers who are coming from high-risk states of the quarantine order and require them to fill out a traveler registration health form. Starting Thursday, the mayor’s Public Engagement Unit will be at Penn Station and the Port Authority to educate travelers about the state law.
“As Sheriff, I understand the absolute serious nature of this pandemic as well as this decided course of action,” Sheriff Joseph Fucito said. “The entire team will strive to ensure the deployment balances the critical public health and welfare needs of the residents of the city with the legal protections entitled to all people.”
The city’s Test & Trace Corps will follow up with out-of-state travelers to determine if they need any resources that the city will provide, including medication and food delivery, hotel stays, and anything to help get through the two weeks.
Those under mandatory quarantine must stay at home or in a hotel room without guests, except for caregivers, self-monitor for symptoms of the virus, and only leave for essential appointments or food if delivery is not possible. Failure to quarantine is considered a violation of state law and individuals could be subject to fines as high as $10,000.
The state is also enforcing the quarantine at airports with teams set up at arrival terminals to greet disembarking passengers and collect the traveler form, which airlines are distributing to passengers on board. All travelers from designated states must complete the form upon entering. Those who do not complete 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 advisory.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with Gov. Phil Murphy and Gov. Ned Lamont, first issued the travel advisory on June 25 with a list of nine states. But as cases continue to spike across the country, the number of restricted states that have significant community spread of the virus has grown to 34 states and Puerto Rico, as of August 5. See the full list here.
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