Coming to NY? Here are the new requirements!

ALBANY – New York is scrapping its weekly list of states from where visitors had to quarantine and instead implementing a new COVID-19 testing system for all travelers outside contiguous states.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the change Saturday, saying a rigorous testing standard is a better way to control the virus’ spread in New York.

Almost all states were on the state’s 14-day quarantine list, making its weekly metrics to determine who met the criteria a fluid system. Even New York itself was trending toward making its own list on Tuesday, when it was next due to be updated.

“Given the changing facts, we’re coming up with a new program,” Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters. “And all the experts suggest we shift to a testing system, and that’s what we are going to do.”

Here’s the new policy

Visiting from a non-contiguous state: If a person wants to visit New York or if a resident left New York for more than 24 hours and wants to return, they must first take a COVID test that proves they are negative within three days prior to their arrival.

Arriving in New York: When a visitor or resident returns to the state, even after a negative test before arrival, they have to quarantine for three days. Then, on the fourth day, they need to take another COVID test. If it’s negative, they can be released from quarantine. If not, they have to fulfill a 14-day quarantine.

Visiting from a non-contiguous state: If a person wants to visit New York or if a resident left New York for more than 24 hours and wants to return, they must first take a COVID test that proves they are negative within three days prior to their arrival.

Arriving in New York: When a visitor or resident returns to the state, even after a negative test before arrival, they have to quarantine for three days. Then, on the fourth day, they need to take another COVID test. If it’s negative, they can be released from quarantine. If not, they have to fulfill a 14-day quarantine.

Leaving New York for less than 24 hours: If a person left New York to a non-border state for less than 24 hours, the traveler would not need to take a test before a return. But he or she would need to take a COVID test after four days.

Dealing with border states: For New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, the testing requirements do not apply because how often people might travel between the states for work or personal trips, Cuomo said.

What if test results are not back in time? Cuomo’s office the change essentially creates an “opt out” program when you can get negative test results. In other words, a person would need to stay in quarantine in New York until their results come back negative.

Governor Andrew Cuomo wears a mask prior to a COVID briefing in New York City on Oct. 18, 2020.

Cuomo said people traveling from out of state for more than 24 hours would essentially have two tests within seven days that should help detect most positive cases.

“The mandatory quarantine is actually three days upon arrival, you can get a test on the fourth day. The test says you’re negative, that’s that,” Cuomo explained.

“So you will have a test within three days of arrival, that says your negative, a test four days after arrival that says you’re negative. Four days plus three days is seven days, and that is basically by all probability the incubation period.

Previously, New York had applied the 14-day requirement to any traveler arriving from states that had at least 10 average daily new cases per 100,000 residents over the prior week, or at least 10% of COVID-19 tests returned positive over the prior week.

Cuomo said the goal of the new travel policy is to keep New York’s infection rate to among the lowest in the nation.

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