With COVID-19 cases falling and vaccines spreading across the state, New York will end its domestic travel quarantine rules as of April 1, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.
The decision, however, did not sit well with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who again expressed concern over the spread of COVID-19 variants across the city and country, and the potential for another increase in cases even as the vaccination efforts continue.
Starting on April 1, Cuomo said, anyone traveling into New York from another U.S. state or territory will no longer be required to quarantine for several days. Rather, travelers will simply be advised to do so as a precaution.
Travelers coming to New York from abroad, however, must continue to quarantine for several days upon arrival in the Empire State, Cuomo added.
“As we work to build our vaccination infrastructure even further and get more shots in arms, we’re making significant progress in winning the footrace between the infection rate and the vaccination rate, allowing us to open new sectors of our economy and start our transition to a new normal in a post-pandemic world,” Cuomo said in a press statement released on March 11. “As part of that transition, quarantine for domestic travelers is no longer required, but it is still being advised as an added precaution.”
Asked about the change to the quarantine policy during his daily briefing at City Hall, de Blasio said the city was “not consulted” at all by the governor before the change was made.
“I believe in local control, and here’s another case where New York City was not consulted, even though we’re one of the biggest cities in the world and 43% of the state’s population,” the mayor said.
De Blasio said that travel is a major concern given that “the introduction of the virus from outside” New York City “has been one of the biggest and toughest x-factors in this whole crisis, and something we worry about very much going forward.”
Dr. Jay Varma, the mayor’s senior advisor for public health, expounded on de Blasio’s concerns further — primarily focusing on different variants of COVID-19 now circulating within the city that are believed to be more infectious than “classic COVID,” as the mayor put it Wednesday.
“There is tremendous progress being made, but at the same time, we’re still at a very tenuous point,” Varma said. “We now have 51% of the cases in the city due to new strains of this virus that are more infectious. We do feel really strongly that it’s important for us to be as cautious as we possibly can, and that one of the ways to help reduce infections is to limit the amount of travel outside of the city.”
Regardless of where they come from, all travelers into New York must continue to fill out the Traveler Health Form, the governor noted. Other safety orders, such as mask-wearing mandates and social distancing measures, remain in effect indefinitely.
Under state guidelines, anyone returning to New York from travel or exposed to COVID-19 should do the following:
- Monitor daily symptoms for up to 14 days;
- Strictly follow all recommended, non-pharmaceutical actions, including washing hands and using face coverings, for two weeks (even if fully vaccinated);
- Immediately self-isolate if any symptoms develop and contact the local Health Department or their healthcare provider, and determine if they should seek testing.