New York’s new COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers coming from outside its bordering states will take effect this week as coronavirus infections surge across the country.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order Saturday that mandated several new COVID-19 testing and quarantining protocols for travelers who were in another state for more than 24 hours, The Journal News, a USA TODAY Network publication, reports.

It came as New York effectively abandoned its prior rules that required travelers from a list of other states with rising COVID-19 cases to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in New York.

The state described the new program as a “test out” initiative meaning travelers can get out of the mandatory 14-day quarantine if they pass the COVID tests sooner.

“All the experts suggest we shift to a testing policy. And that’s what we’re going to do, and this is how it will work,” Cuomo said Saturday. “There will be no quarantine list; there will be no metrics. There will be one rule that applies across the country.”

The new travel requirements take effect Wednesday. 

How does the new protocol impact travelers?

For travelers who were in another state for more than 24 hours:

They must obtain a test within three days of departure from that state.

The traveler must, upon arrival in New York, quarantine for three days.

On day four of their quarantine, the traveler must obtain another COVID test. If both tests come back negative, the traveler may exit quarantine early upon receipt of the second negative diagnostic test.

For travelers who were in another state for less than 24 hours:

The traveler does not need a test prior to their departure from the other state, and does not need to quarantine upon arrival in New York State.

However, the traveler must fill out New York’s traveler form upon entry into the state, and take a COVID diagnostic test four days after their arrival in New York.

How will New York enforce COVID-19 testing for out-of-state travel?

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Medical personnel prepare to administer a COVID-19 swab at a drive-through testing site in Lawrence, N.Y., Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. The rate of COVID-19 infections has risen enough in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut to require those states’ residents to quarantine if they travel to New York, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York won’t enforce the rules against those residents.

Much of the enforcement of the new travel rules will involve local health departments, which will validate out-of-state travelers’ COVID tests, according to the regulations.

If a test comes back positive, local health officials will issue isolation orders and initiate contact tracing to identify and quarantine other people exposed to the virus. 

The local health department must make contact with the state the traveler came from, to ensure contact tracing proceeds there as well.

Violations of isolation or quarantine order connected to the travel mandate could result in a civil penalty of up to $10,000, according to the executive order.

Outside of contiguous states, all travelers must also continue to fill out New York’s traveler form upon arrival into the state. The form consists of a questionnaire focused on recent travel, COVID symptoms and plans for adhering to New York’s travel rules.

Most proactive enforcement efforts so far have focused on travelers arriving at airports, with contact-tracing workers stopping people to explain they must fill out the form and follow state orders related to out-of-state travel.

People who refuse to fill out the form can face a $2,000 fine.

Under the new rules, travelers arriving at airports in New York could also be asked to show COVID-19 test results, Cuomo said Monday, noting all of the testing data will be tracked by local and state health officials as part of compliance oversight.

Cuomo did not address plans for enforcing the new testing rules among motorists and train travelers.

He has repeatedly noted previously that it is difficult to enforce travel-related restrictions for motorists and train travel, but the regulations include a hot line for people to call, 1-833-789-0470, to report violators.

Who is exempt from NY’s COVID-19 test rule for travelers? A electronic sign with a message advising people that COVID-19 is still a risk is visible to drivers on Route 17 in Monroe.

For New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, the testing requirements do not apply because of how often people might travel between the states for work or personal trips, Cuomo said.

Further, exceptions to the travel advisory are permitted for essential workers and are limited based on the duration of time in designated states, as well as the intended duration of time in New York, according to the regulations.

Essential workers include people working in health care, public utilities, the food industry and other businesses listed on the Empire State Development’s Essential Business list, as well as people who are already getting tested, such as some medical professionals. 

For further details, visit the COVID-19 travel advisory website, at www.coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory.

Follow David Robinson on Twitter: @DrobinsonLoHud

This article originally appeared on New York State Team: FAQ: What COVID-19 testing will NY require for out-of-state travel?



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