COVID-19 checkpoints coming to NYC bridges and tunnels to enforce quarantine order

Traffic in the Queens Midtown Tunnel. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Toll booths aren’t the only thing stopping drivers on the way to New York City.

The New York City Sheriff’s Office will work to enforce the state’s quarantine order by setting up coronavirus checkpoints at bridges and tunnels to instruct visitors on the quarantine rules, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday. 

Officers will randomly stop cars to educate travelers on quarantine requirements — which mandate that outside travelers quarantine for 14 days, regardless of infection status — and on Thursday teams from the city’s Test and Trace Corps will be at Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal to ensure that travelers fill out contact forms.

Visitors from one of the 35 states on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s travel advisory list caught breaking quarantine rules can face fines of up to $10,000, the mayor said. 

“They’ll (travelers) be reminded that failure to quarantine is a violation of state law, and it comes with serious penalties. This is serious stuff, and it’s time for everyone to realize it,” de Blasio said. “If we’re going to hold at this level of health and safety in this city, and get better, we have to deal with the fact that the quarantine must be applied consistently to anyone who has traveled.”

According to Dr. Ted Long, head of New York City’s Test and Trace Corps, a fifth of new cases in the city are coming from travelers coming from other states. Travelers in mandatory quarantine will be provided with food delivery, medication delivery, direct access to doctors and in some cases free hotel lodging. 

On Aug. 2, 66 people were admitted to a New York City public hospital with possible COVID-19, 286 people were admitted to a public hospital intensive care unit and 2% of New York City residents getting tested for the virus are testing positive, according to City Hall. 

Since June 10, de Blasio noted, New York City’s COVID-19 infection rate has held under 3%. He remarked that the consistent, two-month level of infection is “extraordinary,” and that city government seeks to drive that down even further.