On June 25th, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order as a result of increasing community transmission of COVID-19 outside of New York State. The travel advisory went into effect at 12:01 AM on June 25th. New York State’s travel advisory restricts travel to New York from states identified to have higher rates of community transmission of COVID-19. The advisory also outlined changes to interstate travel from all 50 U.S. states.

I recently traveled to New York State and encountered some of the effects of the active travel advisory. While I only visited New York for around eight hours, it was clear that government officials and the general public were actively working to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 in their state. That being said, travelers arriving in New York State should expect a slightly different domestic travel experience. Here’s what you need to know about the New York State travel advisory and what to expect upon arrival.

Update: This post has been updated as of August 12th, 2020. Updates to the states included in New York State’s travel advisory have been made.

new york state covid19 travel response
Here's what travelers should expect when visiting New York State during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Image by Eliyahu Yosef Parypa / Shutterstock.com)

New York State's COVID-19 Travel Advisory

The most significant aspect of New York’s travel advisory impacts travelers arriving from the states and territories listed below. These states and US territories have been identified as having widespread community transmission of COVID-19. These states/territories are as follows:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Puerto Rico
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Virgin Islands
  • Wisconsin

According to the executive order signed by Governor Cuomo, these states have reported, “a seven day rolling average, of positive tests in excess of 10%, or [reported] number of positive cases exceeding 10 per 100,000 residents.” As of July 12th, no additional states have met the requirements outlined in the executive order.

Travelers arriving in New York State from these states will be required to enter a mandatory quarantine for 14 days. Additionally, travelers who have visited states outlined in the travel advisory in the past 14-days will also be required to enter into a mandatory 14-day quarantine regardless of their state of origin.

For example, a traveler who travels aboard a nonstop flight from Chicago but has recently visited Nashville in the past 14 days must enter into mandatory quarantine. This is despite the traveler arriving in New York from a state that has not met transmission requirements.

However, it should be noted that individuals who spend less than 24 hours in states reporting widespread community transmission will be exempt from the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Arriving in New York During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Prior to planning my recent travels, I made sure to consult official state and local government resources and guidelines regarding traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic. As I had not met any requirements that would significantly impact my travels or put others at risk, I felt comfortable moving forward with my plans. Upon arriving at the airport on the day of my departure, the impact of New York State’s travel advisory was quite obvious.

Before departing St. Louis, the gate agent handed me a form titled “New York State Traveler Health Form.” Receiving the form was a surprise. I have traveled throughout the United States, crossing state borders and have never encountered a form like this. Filling out the form was a lot like filling out customs and immigration cards prior to arriving in a foreign country.

The form distributed to passengers prior to arrival in New York. The two page form requires travelers to provide New York State with basic contact information, information about their recent travels, and provides travelers with the latest COVID-19 guidelines.
The form distributed to passengers prior to arrival in New York. The two page form requires travelers to provide New York State with basic contact information, information about their recent travels, and provides travelers with the latest COVID-19 guidelines. (Image by Max Prosperi / The College Points)

The form consisted of two pages. The first page included a few paragraphs explaining New York State’s efforts to continue to minimize the spread of COVID-19. It also included hyperlinks to websites with information regarding the active travel advisory. At the bottom of the first page, I was required to provide basic information and my 14-day travel history. I was also required to provide not only my flight number but also my seat number. Finally, I was required to provide my final destination should I be terminating in New York for more than 24 hours.

The second page included information about essential workers and exceptions available to select essential workers. The second page also required me to provide basic contact information.

While it was somewhat bizarre, filling out a form to travel to another state, it made perfect sense. The form serves as documentation that allows New York State to better monitor travelers and even prevents the spread of COVID-19.

Upon arrival at New York LaGuardia, a representative was standing near a cardboard box near the terminal exit. Travelers were required to place their completed forms in the box before making their way to baggage claim or ground transportation. It was effortless and clearly demonstrated New York State’s strong response to containing the spread of COVID-19.

New York's Approach To Preventing a Second Wave

Living in St. Louis, I’ve become accustomed to wearing a mask whenever I go out in public. St. Louis City and County recently implemented mask ordinances with residents, for the most, complying with the mask ordinances. The same cannot be said for other areas in the state of Missouri and elsewhere in the United States.

However, it was evident during my short time in the New York City area that masking wearing has become engrained in everyday life. Though I encountered numerous diverse crowds while traveling throughout the NYC area, I never heard a single person even mention masks or face coverings.

Even at an FBO in Westchester County, employees and passengers wore a mask during my three-hour visit despite being able to maintain a distance of six or more feet apart. New Yorkers were the first in the U.S. to witness just how horrific COVID-19 can become if left unmanaged. It is clear that New Yorkers are actively doing their part to prevent a second wave in their state.

Upon departing New York, the aircraft operator sent me a message requesting that I fill out a second form. My final destination that day was South Florida. I was unable to determine if the form had been a requirement of New York, Florida, or the aircraft operator as it featured the branding of the aircraft operator. Nevertheless, the form was similar to the for I received upon arrival with a more thorough travel history section.

New York City skyline on approach into New York-LaGuardia on July 9th, 2020
New York City skyline as seen from an Embraer E175 on approach to New York-LaGuardia on July 9th, 2020. (Image by Max Prosperi / The College Points)

Should You Travel to New York State?

Ultimately, for travelers planning to visit New York, what should be expected upon arrival? Should you reconsider travel to the state altogether?

The answer to these questions varies depending on an individual’s travel history and the purpose of their journey. First and foremost, non-essential travel is still discouraged. While some states are working to return to pre-COVID normalcy, other states are still taking the on-going pandemic seriously. Tourism and leisure travel is not restricted in the United States at the moment. However, as cases continue to rise in numerous states, travelers may want to rethink travel to areas with significant community transmission.

As for travel to New York State in particular, if you have visited one or more of the states and US territories listed in this post, you will be required to enter into a mandatory quarantine for 14 days. This 14-day mandatory quarantine requirement is often enough for travelers to cancel their plans. However, should you be willing to enter into this necessary quarantine period, be sure to consult the New York Department of Health’s official website for guidance on how to quarantine.

If you have not visited one of the states/territories listed in the New York State travel advisory, you will still be required to submit a health form and questionnaire. New York is also taking more precautions compared to other states.

Note: New York is one of three states with active travel advisories. New Jersey and Connecticut have also issued active travel advisories.

More Information: States, counties, and cities across the United States have implemented various precautionary measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. Travelers should consult local resources like city government websites for the latest restrictions and guidelines at their destination. Additionally, for the latest updates and resources concerning COVID-19, visit the Center For Disease Control’s official website.