Tristate Area Partners to Quarantine Travelers From U.S. Hot Spots

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are enacting a 14-day quarantine for people coming from states where COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly in an attempt to guard against an increase in cases in the tristate area.

The governors of the three states jointly announced Wednesday that travelers from states that exceed one of two criteria will face the quarantine.

“It’s only for the simple reason that we worked very hard to get the viral transmission rate down,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “We don’t want to see it go up because a lot of people come into this region and they could literally bring the infection with them. It wouldn’t be malicious or malevolent but it would still be real.”

Under the advisory, a traveler from any state that registers 10 positive cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day rolling average or has a seven-day average of 10 percent positive COVID-19 test results based on the state’s entire population will be subject to the quarantine, Cuomo said.

Although the requirement doesn’t go into effect until Thursday at midnight, there are nine states that qualify for the restriction on Wednesday: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington state, Texas and Utah. The statistics and which state’s travelers would be subject to the regulation will be updated on a daily basis, Cuomo said.

Violators would be subject to a mandatory quarantine and up to a $2,000 fine for the first violation, up to $5,000 for the second offense and up to $10,000 for anyone who caused harm.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the tristate area was the hardest hit region in the nation in March and April and have worked hard to bring the transmission rates down to among the lowest numbers in the nation. The three states have combined for more than 48,000 deaths of the approximately 121,000 in the United States. For more than a week, New York State has remained within a fraction of 1 percent on percentage of positive results, with New Jersey slightly higher and Connecticut below 3 percent.

COVID-19 cases rose in 27 states on Tuesday.

“It’s the right thing to do, it’s the common-sense thing to do it’s the responsible thing to do,” Murphy said.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont echoed his two colleagues’ sentiments, saying that low transmission rates must be maintained to ensure that the region’s businesses and schools can open and continue operating.

“The Northeast region has taken this seriously and that’s allowed us as a region to power through and get our positivity rates very low,” Lamont said. “But we’re not an island and as we look around the rest of the country, we have seen not just spikes but real community spread, better than a 10 percent positivity rate in a number of states right now.”

When pressed on enforcement, Cuomo said that if other people learn that someone has arrived from a hot spot state, they can be reported. Also, if police can spot and stop cars with license plates from the states subject to the quarantine.

“You can break the law and if you don’t get caught, you’re fine,” Cuomo said. “But that’s a big if.”

In April, there were states that required travelers from New York to observe a mandatory 14-day quarantine when the state was the nation’s COVID-19 hot spot. Cuomo said New York will help the other states as best they can but many of the reopening plans around the country have backfired.

“All the numbers are good. What we’re doing works,” he said. “Our approach has been vindicated and the phased reopening by data works.”