ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) – New York State’s newest regulation to protect from coronavirus spread took effect just after midnight Thursday. Any traveler coming in from a state experiencing a high rate of transmission is ordered to quarantine for 14 days.
The executive order applies to anyone traveling from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 residents per 100,000 or a testing positivity rate of higher than 10 percent on a seven day rolling average. Right now, the list includes Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, Texas. States may be removed or added on a weekly basis.
There are exemptions in place for essential workers and “extraordinary circumstances”, as determined by New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. Violators of the order could be fined as much as $10,000. But many are wondering how the state will enforce it.
“I don’t know how they’re going to,” said Nancy Stroud, who flew into Buffalo from Tampa Thursday morning. “How are they going to do that? How are they going to enforce that?”
Stroud is in town to help her mother move. She is here to pick up a van, and drive it down South. When she initially heard about the travel advisory Wednesday, she scrambled to find a flight to Buffalo that day. That didn’t work out, and she was forced to fly in Thursday, after it took effect. She’s hoping she’ll be able to leave town this weekend.
“Nothing big planned. No social events,” she said.
Anne was also on the flight from Tampa. She’ll be staying in a condo in Western New York.
“I have to eat, and I don’t have anything there right now,” she said. “So, I’ll probably just get something to eat and then stay there for 14 days.”
For those like Stroud who were wondering how the state will enforce the order, Governor Andrew Cuomo provided an answer on CNN Thursday morning.
“We know people who fly in. If you fly in here from another state, we know what flight you came in on,” Cuomo said. “We’ll have inspectors who are randomly looking at names on the list and calling to follow up and make sure you’re quarantining.”
Enforcement will not fall to the NFTA Police Department, which patrols the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
“Our main role is to communicate and to make sure travelers and their families and friends are aware of the advisory,” said Helen Tederous, a spokesperson for the NFTA.
NFTA officials point out the order doesn’t limit or restrict air travel. They are encouraging people to contact their air carrier with questions about procedure.
Connecticut and New Jersey are implementing similar policies in coordination with New York.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of his work here.