New York State Has Reopened Its Borders to All U.S. Visitors

NY is nixing travel bans in favor of mandatory testing and quarantining

Airplanes at Newark Liberty Airport
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

New York is once again welcoming visitors from any U.S. state—all you need to do is present a negative test ahead of your trip and quarantine upon arrival.

As one of the hardest-hit states early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, New York has been very deliberate and careful when it comes to where its incoming visitors arrive from in order to help keep virus numbers down. For the last several months, the state has kept a stringent and tedious list of “cleared” states that are able to enter, all dependent on running virus totals and positive test rate percentages. The result was a travel restriction list that required constant updating due to the yo-yo ups and downs of coronavirus case numbers in several different states. 

On Nov. 4, 2020, the state began a new approach that requires testing and potential quarantine periods for all incoming travelers—even New Yorkers who take a day trip outside state lines. When announcing the protocol change on Oct. 31, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said that “the [quarantine] list started small and then got longer and longer and longer and longer. At one point, it was no longer a list, it was almost all-inclusive.”  

The new rules are pretty simple: If you’re coming into New York State, you’ll need to fill out a health form and provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of arrival. Once you’re in, you will be required to undergo a three-day quarantine. On the fourth day, you must take another negative test in order to move about the state; otherwise, you will need to quarantine for 10 more days. 

There are a few caveats to the rule. “New Yorkers who travel outside of New York for less than 24 hours must take a test within four days of their arrival [back]," Cuomo said. “If the test says they're positive, then we go into contact tracing mode, et cetera, quarantine—but they must take a test within four days upon arrival. They do not need to take a test before getting on the plane to come back to New York.” Additionally, travelers coming from the three bordering states of New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania are exempt from the new protocol. Some amendments may also be made for essential workers or folks who are unable to quarantine. 

While there are no details on how this new protocol will be enforced, the announcement outlining the new rules came with a stern warning that anyone caught in non-compliance will be issued a civil penalty of up to $10,000.

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