ALBANY, N.Y. – New York City will establish registration checkpoints at key entryways, such as bridges and tunnels, to ensure travelers coming from states with high COVID-19 infection rates go into quarantine when they come across the border.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that the measure dovetails with New York’s requirement that anyone visiting New York from 34 states with high coronavirus cases needs to enter quarantine for 14 days.
City police will be intermittently stopping travelers who have traveled from those states and requiring them to provide information, such as a phone number, while completing a state Department of Health traveler form, as well as telling them to quarantine upon entering New York City.
People coming from the 34 states and Puerto Rico are subject to the quarantine if they plan to stay in New York for more than 24 hours.
The effort started Thursday, and it began with outreach at Penn Station, the busiest train station in the nation, the mayor said.
“Travelers coming in from those states will be given information about the quarantine,” de Blasio announced Wednesday.
“They will be reminded that it is required, not optional. They’ll be reminded that failure to quarantine is a violation of state law, and it comes with serious penalties.”
Travelers who fail to comply could face up to $10,000 in fines if they don’t quarantine, and $2,000 if they do not fill out the travel form, de Blasio said.
The city is adding digital signs at points of entry to increase public awareness about the quarantine as the state tries to keep down its infection rate, which is now among the lowest in the nation after being one of the early hot spots.
New York State has had more than 25,000 deaths due to coronavirus, the most in the U.S., but it has so far been able to stave off a new spike as the virus has surged in other parts of the nation.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo instituted the quarantine in late June as the virus spread across the nation, and New Jersey and Connecticut follow New York’s quarantine list – which is updated every Tuesday.
Last Tuesday, Washington, D.C., and Delaware were removed from the list because their infection rates fell, but Rhode Island was added.
New York City Sheriff Joe Fucito said the goal was not to target out-of-state residents, but to educate New Yorkers returning home from COVID-19 hot spots and those coming from those states to undertake the 14-day quarantine.
“The only way to have an effective checkpoint is having a random component to it,” Fucito said.
“The courts have looked at checkpoints for public safety reasons, for regulatory reasons. And that seems to be the standard that they’re looking for to avoid discrimination. It is so many vehicles, like, let’s say it’s every sixth vehicle or every eighth vehicle.”