New York Travel Restrictions: Frequently Asked Questions 

June 25, 2020

By: Caitlin A. Anderson and Hermes Fernandez

On June 24, 2020, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced a joint travel advisory. Individuals coming into New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from certain high COVID-19 infection rate states must quarantine for 14 days. Late on June 24, Gov. Cuomo issued Executive Order 205 (the Order) and the Department of Health issued Interim Guidance for Quarantine Restrictions on Travelers Arriving in New York State Following Out of State Travel (the Guidance). We examine some frequently asked questions about the Order and the Guidance below.

What is the effective date of the travel restriction?

The Order is effective as of 12:01 a.m. on June 25, 2020. It does not apply to those who arrived in New York prior to that time. 

What are the metrics for determining what areas are impacted?

A state qualifies for a travel restriction if it has either: (1) a new daily positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average, or (2) higher than 10% positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average. According to the Guidance, New York will announce the impacted states on a weekly basis.

What states are currently impacted?

As of June 24, the relevant travel-advisory states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington. This will likely change as COVID-19 cases are currently increasing in over 20 states.

Who does the travel advisory apply to?

According to the Guidance, the travel advisory does not apply to individuals traveling through the designated states for a limited duration of less than 24 hours. The Guidance lists examples of “brief passage” to include stopping at rest stops or layovers for air, bus or train travel. 

If, however, a person has spent more time in the impacted states, they must quarantine. The Order applies to all New Yorkers and all visitors entering the state.

Importantly, the Guidance differentiates how the travel restriction applies to essential workers. We discuss this in more detail below.

What are the requirements of quarantining? 

The Guidance sets forth specific measures to quarantine, which are the same requirements as those set forth by the Department of Health in April 2020. These include:

  • An individual must not be in public or otherwise leave the quarters identified as suitable for his/her quarantine. 
  • The individual must be situated in separate quarters with a separate bathroom facility for each individual or family group. Access to a sink with soap, water and paper towels is necessary. Cleaning supplies (e.g. household cleaning wipes, bleach) must be provided in any shared bathroom. 
  • The individual must have a way to self-quarantine from household members as soon as fever or other symptoms develop, in a separate room(s) with a separate door. Given that an exposed person might become ill while sleeping, the exposed person must sleep in a separate bedroom from household members. 
  • Food must be delivered to the person’s quarters. 
  • Quarters must have a supply of face masks for individuals to put on if they become symptomatic. 
  • Garbage must be bagged and left outside for routine pick up. Special handling is not required. 
  • A system for temperature and symptom monitoring must be implemented to provide assessment in-place for the quarantined persons in their separate quarters. 
  • Nearby medical facilities must be notified, if the individual begins to experience more than mild symptoms and may require medical assistance. 
  • The quarters must be secure against unauthorized access.

Remember, the quarantine rules apply to the individual’s best ability to comply. It may be impossible for some individuals to live in a separate quarter from the family and/or roommates. 

Are there exemptions to the quarantine order?

Yes. Remember, the quarantine order only applies if you have been in one of the impacted states for more than 24 hours.

There is an exemption for essential workers. The Guidance defines three types of essential workers:

  1. Any individual employed by an entity included on the Empire State Development (ESD) Essential Business list;
  2. Any individual who:
    1. Is employed as a health care worker, first responder, or within a nursing home, long-term care facility or congregate care setting, so long as that individual meets the COVID-19 testing criteria;
    2. An individual who is employed as an essential employee who directly interacts with the public while working. The Department of Health Protocol for COVID-19 Testing details the employees that fall into this category. You may find that protocol here
  3. Any other worker deemed as essential by the Commissioner of Health. 

How does the quarantine order apply to essential workers?

This depends on the length of the essential workers’ stay in New York. The exemption for essential workers applies to largely transient based jobs (e.g., airline, railroad, trucking, utility and construction workers). 

Short term: essential workers traveling to New York for a period of less than 12 hours, including deliveries and layovers. 

  • Such essential workers should stay in their vehicle and/or limit personal exposure by avoiding public spaces as much as possible.
  • Essential workers must, to the extent possible, avoid extended periods in public, contact with strangers and large congregate settings.
  • Additionally, such essential workers should monitor temperature and signs of symptoms, wear a face covering when in public, maintain social distance and clean and disinfect workspaces.

Medium Term: essential workers traveling to New York for a period of less than 36 hours, requiring an overnight stay. This includes deliveries and longer layovers. 

  • Essential workers must, to the extent possible, avoid extended periods in public, contact with strangers and large congregate settings.
  • Additionally, such essential workers should monitor temperature and signs of symptoms, wear a face covering when in public, maintain social distance and clean and disinfect workspaces.

Long Term: essential workers traveling to New York for a period of greater than 36 hours, requiring them to stay for several days. 

  • Essential workers should seek diagnostic testing for COVID-19 as soon as possible upon arrival (within 24 hours) to ensure they are not positive.
  • Essential workers should monitor temperature and signs of symptoms, wear a face covering when in public, maintain social distancing, clean and disinfect workspaces for a minimum of 14 days.
  • Essential workers, to the extent possible, are required to avoid extended periods in public, contact with strangers, and large congregate settings for a period of, at least, seven days.

Can people violating the order be reported?

Yes. Please see the Guidance for further instruction on how reporting works. 

The Bond, Schoeneck and King Labor and Employment group will be issuing a blog post about how the Order impacts employer obligations. 

If you have questions, or want to effect the standards applicable to your industry, please contact Hermes Fernandez, Caitlin Anderson or the attorney at the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.