New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is setting up COVID-19 “traveler registration checkpoints” at tunnel and bridge crossings starting Aug. 6 to help compliance with New York State quarantine requirements to contain the virus.
A directive, from Gov. Andrew Cuomo says travelers from 35 designated states with high COVID-19 transmission rates must complete a New York State Department of Health traveler form and quarantine for two weeks upon entering New York. So far it’s been contained to airports where people off flights are told to indicate where they’ll be staying or receive a summons. They are supposed to self-quarantine for two weeks.
The initial push excluded ground transportation. But as of tomorrow, the NYC Sheriff’s Office in coordination with other law enforcement agencies will be operating checkpoints with the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit beginning outreach at Penn Station “to educate travelers about New York State home-quarantine orders.”
“New York City is holding the line against COVID-19 and New Yorkers have shown tremendous discipline,” de Blasio said at a briefing Wednesday. “We’re not going to let our hard work slip away and will continue to do everything we can to keep New Yorkers safe and healthy.”
These quarantine orders won’t be any easier to enforce that the ones at airports but the show will make a point, de Blasio said at a briefing Wednesday.
“The checkpoints are going to send a very powerful message that this quarantine is serious. Even if we can’t reach every single person I think it’ll get the message across… We don’t want to penalize people. We want to educate them, make sure they’re following the rules.”
Sheriff Joseph Fucito said his team will work to balance the “critical public health and welfare needs of the residents of the city with the legal protections entitled to all people.” That means no targeting license plates or anything else. The stops will be random, he said, “Like every sixth vehicle, or every eigth vehicle. We determine something … and stick to it for the day.”
New York City was once the pandemic’s epicenter but has reopened cautiously and has very few cases. All regions are in Phase 4, the final phase, but Gov. Cuomo has excluded movie theaters, gyms and malls across the state, which are still shuttered, as well as indoor dining in NYC.
Asked about plans to reopen – specifically gyms – with new air filters that can block virus droplets, de Blasio said that’s something the city and state need to discuss during the month of August. He doesn’t expect any movement until after Labor Day.
Meanwhile, Gov. Cuomo, who has become a national figure on the COVID-response circuit with often hard-hitting daily press conferences, took the gavel Wednesday to start a term as chair of the National Governors Association – the first guv from New York to hold the position.
“There has never been a moment where state governments have been more instrumental in the lives of the people of this country. State governments are now in the forefront, and it is a new chapter in the governance of this country,” Cuomo said. “This coming year, states are not only laboratories of democracy – we will also be the engines of economic renewal and the innovators of a new public health system. There is tremendous possibility in the nation’s recognition of the full potential of state governments.”
“Next year’s agenda is not really a question of discretion, but rather the dictation of reality. Our agenda is: America’s Recovery and Revival.”
New York’s travel advisory list as of August 5, 2020 includes:
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- New Mexico
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina