De Blasio announces quarantine checkpoints

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press availability on July 28th.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press availability on July 28th.
Michael Appleton/ Mayoral Photography Office
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press availability on July 28th.

De Blasio announces quarantine checkpoints

Sheriffs will stop cars at bridges and tunnels leading into New York City.
August 5, 2020

Since Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people traveling to New York from “hot spot” coronavirus states in June, critics have cast doubt on whether the state could even enforce such a broad order. With no plans to actually stop the comings and goings of interstate travelers – such restrictions raise constitutional questions – it hasn’t been clear how the state could force every visitor to stay indoors for 14 days.

And while people flying into New York airports are required to fill out a form with their contact information, a number of states on the quarantine list are close enough to New York for visitors to make the trip by car or train, leaving a major hole in the already porous order. 

Now, New York City is taking a step to help the state crack down on those quarantine orders. On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would implement checkpoints at key entry points in the city, including bridges and tunnels. The New York City Sheriff’s Office will run the checkpoints, which will be moved around the city, changing locations daily. The checkpoints will also only stop cars randomly. “Travelers coming in from those states will be given information about the quarantine. They will be reminded that it is required, not optional,” de Blasio said, noting that the fine for violating the quarantine is $10,000.

While the city checkpoints may make more travelers aware of the quarantine order, it’s still not clear that they will allow the city to keep tabs on every person traveling into the state and ensuring that they stay inside for 14 days. De Blasio also said that the city would help quarantining visitors receive food delivery, medication and even a hotel stay if needed, but did not elaborate on how that would work.

The quarantine order applies not just to out-of-state visitors, but New Yorkers who have been in one of the 34 hot spot states and are traveling back home. But de Blasio made a special plea to out-of-state visitors on Wednesday. “Be as good as New Yorkers,” he said. “Be as devoted to the health of other people as New Yorkers.”

Annie McDonough
Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.
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