In an effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in New York as it continues to spike in other states, quarantine checkpoints are being set up at major entry points.
This week, New York City began establishing registration checkpoints in an attempt to ensure visitors from states with high COVID-19 infection rates go into a mandatory quarantine when they come across the border, as per state protocols.
The city requires anyone staying in New York from nearly three dozen states with high infection cases go into a 14-day quarantine, a mandate set by Gov. Andrew Cuomo when New York began "flattening the curve" in COVID-19 cases.
In the five boroughs, police will be stopping travelers who have visited from states with high infection rates at locations such as Penn Station and other major transit hubs.
The first checkpoint started earlier this week on the Staten Island side of the Goethals Bridge, Bayonne Bridge, and the Outerbridge Crossing, as well as the Holland Tunnel and Lincoln Tunnel. Another is planned for the Port Authority.
Travelers who land at New York airports are currently required to fill out a form for contact tracing purposes. The same requirements apply for travelers coming to the state by car, train, or bus, though those travelers are more likely to make it through without being checked
Refusal to submit the form can result in mandatory quarantine and a $2,000 fine, while failure to comply with the overall order can lead to a $10,000 fine.
“If you come here, you must quarantine. It is not optional,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stated. “We do not want to fine you. We do not want to penalize you. In fact, we want to help you quarantine. But if you don’t respect our laws, we will penalize you.”
The New York City Sheriff’s Department - which is tasked with manning the checkpoints - said that out-of-state residents will not be targeted.
“In fact what we’re looking to do is educate people who’ve spent time in COVID-19 hot spots regardless of their residence,” Sheriff Joseph Fucito said to the Wall Street Journal.
“With a random sampling of cars being stopped and no authority to enforce the quarantine, the checkpoints will largely serve as a PR campaign to inform those traveling into the city about the rules for people who’ve spent time in other states.”
According to de Blasio, “New Yorkers have made enormous sacrifices to reduce the COVID-19 positivity rate, while other states and territories are experiencing an increase in the daily positive tests for COVID-19.
“Continued vigilance is necessary to ensure that New York does not see a spike in new cases due to increased community spread caused by COVID-19 positive travelers entering New York from such state and territories.”
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