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Cuomo: Travel enforcement operation at airports across state to help ensure travelers are following quarantine restrictions

Mon, Jul 13th 2020 04:30 pm

Enforcement teams will be stationed at Port Authority & regional airports beginning July 14 to request proof of completion of State DOH traveler form

New electronic DOH traveler form now available, making it easier & more efficient for travelers to complete

State DOH issues emergency health order mandating out-of-state travelers from designated states complete DOH traveler form upon entering New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced a travel enforcement operation will commence Tuesday at airports across the state to help ensure travelers are following the state's quarantine restrictions and to help contain the rates of COVID-19 transmission in New York. As part of the enforcement operation, enforcement teams will be stationed at airports statewide to meet arriving aircrafts at gates and greet disembarking passengers to request proof of completion of the State Department of Health traveler form, which is being distributed to passengers by airlines prior to, and upon boarding or disembarking flights to New York.

A new electronic version of the DOH traveler form is now also available, making it easier and more efficient for travelers to complete the form.

State DOH has also issued an emergency health order mandating all out-of-state travelers from designated states complete the DOH traveler form upon entering New York. Travelers who leave the airport without completing the form will be subject to a $2,000 fine and may be brought to a hearing and ordered to complete mandatory quarantine.

Airlines have all pledged to help make passengers aware of the new requirement using preflight emails, preflight announcements, inflight announcements and other methods. Additionally, travelers coming to New York from designated states through other means of transport, including trains and cars, must fill out the DOH traveler form online.

On June 24, the governor announced a joint incoming travel advisory with New Jersey and Connecticut requiring all individuals traveling from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state. Nineteen states currently meet the criteria for required quarantine based upon a seven-day rolling average of positive tests in excess of 10%, or number of positive cases exceeding 10 per 100,000 residents. More information on the state's travel advisory is available here.

"New York's success in fighting the COVID-19 virus is under two threats: lack of compliance and the virus coming to New York from other states with increasing infection rates," Cuomo said. "We have already implemented a quarantine order for travelers coming in from states with the highest infection rates, but we are experiencing noncompliance with the order that can lead to outbreaks and threaten the tremendous progress we've already made.

“The State Department of Health is going to issue an emergency health order today mandating that out-of-state travelers complete the DOH traveler form before leaving the airport, and we are launching an enforcement operation at airports across the state to help ensure travelers coming into New York are following this order."

Enforcement at Port Authority Airports

Enforcement teams stationed at Port Authority airports will be comprised of peace officers from state agencies and will be supplemented by State Department of Health staff and supported by Port Authority police officers. The enforcement teams will meet arriving aircrafts at gates and greet disembarking passengers to request proof of completion of the State DOH traveler form. The Port Authority will facilitate the physical setup of enforcement area with proper queuing and social distancing measures taken.

Enforcement at Regional Airports

MacArthur, Westchester, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls airports will have enforcement teams on site daily based on daily arrivals from impacted states. Elmira, Ogdensburg and Plattsburgh airports will have enforcement teams on site based on non-daily arrivals from impacted states. The enforcement teams stationed at these regional airports will be comprised of state DOH peace officers and staff supported by State Police personnel. They will meet arriving aircrafts at gates and greet disembarking passengers to request proof of completion of the DOH traveler form. Each airport will facilitate the physical setup of enforcement area with proper queuing and social distancing measures taken.

Speaking Monday on LCTV, Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton said he and his staff are “getting calls around the clock. I'm getting dozens of emails a day. People saying, ‘I know so and so; they went away; they came back; they're not quarantining.’

“This can't be more serious. People need to follow this quarantine order. This is the governor's quarantine order, it's not one of my orders. But they need to follow it, because he's serious about this fine. It's gonna happen. People need to take the common-sense approaches.

“If people are doing things that they used to be able to do three or four months ago, they can't do that anymore. Whether it's dance classes, whether it's practices, whatever; they need to make sure they're taking these things seriously because, if not, I guarantee you, the governor will be imposing those fines.

“So, we need to make sure we're doing the things we've been doing all along. Be smart, look at the data, and follow the criteria of (social) distance, making sure you have a mask on. Don't do the close-contact things, because that's going to put you in the wrong direction with the numbers. It's up to everybody to do that.”

Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Becky Wydysh added, “I think it's very important to remind folks – I know there's some individuals who just, for whatever reason, their beliefs, their opinions about the masks, they don't think that they're going to get sick. They think they're young, they're healthy, they don't need to wear a mask.

“First and foremost, I would remind you and ask you to remember that wearing the mask is not just about you. It's about keeping everyone else healthy. You can have no symptoms whatsoever – you can feel perfectly healthy and fine – but still come back positive, if tested. Wearing that mask really is about keeping other people safe. When you're out and about – because you're feeling healthy and you don't think you're sick – if you are carrying that virus, you want to know that you're not spreading it on to others without knowing that.

“The other important piece I think people need to remember is that there are guidelines for businesses to be reopened. There are very strict rules from the state that require businesses to have people there – their customers, their clientele, their employees – wearing masks. And if you're going to a business that has this rule in place, and you're not wearing your mask in that business, you're putting that business owner at risk. You're taking the chance that your favorite restaurant or your favorite bar could get shut down by the state – have their liquor license taken away by the Liquor Authority, or some other consequence – because you didn't want to wear your mask while in that business.

“So, please remember: It's not just about you and about your own health. It's about everyone else's health; and letting those businesses that you love to be at and want to be at, remain open by helping them follow the guidelines that they're mandated to follow.”

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