New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will impose mandatory quarantines for travelers from several states, with high rates of the coronavirus, including Florida and Texas, effective midnight tonight.
Governor Andrew Cuomo was joined via remote feeds by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont.
“We’re announcing today a joint travel advisory. People coming in from states that have a high infection rate must quarantine for 14 days,” Cuomo said.
Travelers from states that have an infection rate higher of 10% of their population for a seven day average will be under the quarantine orders. That list currently includes Florida, Texas, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, and Washington State. Some of those states can be removed from the list if their infection rates improve, other states will be added, if their numbers of people with the disease go up.
Residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut who travel to those states and return will also have to quarantine. Violators who are caught face a $2000 fine. Cuomo notes the three states' fates are tied closely together.
"We are jointly instituting that travel advisory today because what happens in New York happens in New Jersey, happens in Connecticut," Cuomo said. "I think it's right, I think it's smart and I'm glad that we're doing it together. We've done a lot of good things together and hopefully we're on the other side of this mountain and we'll continue to see the numbers go down and we'll continue to see the economic activity go up."
The three states had strict stay at home orders throughout the spring and are undergoing measured and careful reopenings. New Jersey Governor Murphy says the three states have been “through hell and back” with economic shutdowns that caused severe hardships. And he says he does not want to repeat that due to increased infections from elsewhere.
“The last thing we need right now is to subject our folks to another round,” Murphy said.
There is no federal policy on closures and reopenings to help control the spread of the coronavirus. Connecticut Governor Lamont says states that have managed the virus well feel that they have no choice but to act, saying “we’re not an island”.
“Right now we’re seeing places within some of these states where you have a positivity rate 20, 30, 40 percent, in many cases younger people, folks who travel, 18 to 35 (years old) ,” Lamont said. “Who are maybe not at risk themselves but are highly infectious.”
The travel advisories are a reversal of fortune for New York and the other states, who in the spring were virus hot spots, with New York at the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.. Florida ordered quarantine of New York visitors for a time. The governor of Rhode Island briefly threatened to arrest travelers coming in to her state from New York.
The governors of the three states credit their success to the cooperation of people in their states who obeyed the stay at home orders, and who are largely wearing masks and practicing safe social distancing.
New York's Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt called Cuomo a hypocrite for instituting the policy.
"Just two months ago, Governor Cuomo in his constant quest for headlines proclaimed that any restrictions on travel for New Yorkers would be an ‘act of civil war,’ and he even threatened Rhode Island with a lawsuit for asking New Yorkers to quarantine during the height of the coronavirus outbreak in this state."
Ortt is worried the move will hurt the economy and pose an unfair and unpredictable burdeon on anyone traveling for a business conference or vacation.
"New Yorkers and businesses have suffered enough, and the Governor’s vindictive, hypocritical move against other states and on New Yorkers’ liberties does not help us move forward. The Republican Senate put forward an amendment to strip the Governor of his powers and Democrats rejected it. It is time to stop his unbridled and unchecked powers and restore the decision making process to the Legislature before more damage is done to our citizens, businesses and overall economy."
In New York , many regions upstate are poised to begin the final phase of four phases of reopening. But that stage has stirred controversy, because indoor shopping malls, movie theaters and gyms are not on that list. Cuomo says the reason for the delay is that some studies have shown that the air conditioning in systems common in those indoor public spaces may actually spread the virus.
“That air conditioning may not be cleansing the air of the virus, and just recirculating the virus,” Cuomo said. “We’re studying that, and as soon as we get some more information we’ll make an informed decision.”
The governor says the malls, movie theaters and gyms could open at a later date, but he did not rule out the possibility that they could remain closed until there is a vaccine for the virus.