Coronavirus (COVID-19)-related business and travel restrictions in New York State remain largely unchanged as of Jan. 13 as compared with mid-December 2020. Across most of the state, restaurants and malls may host indoor dining at 50-percent capacity, while movie theaters and other low-risk indoor entertainment venues can open at 25-percent capacity. In New York City, however, indoor dining remains banned, indoor malls and movie theaters remain closed, and cultural events remain prohibited.
Statewide, all indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people; restaurants, bars, gyms, and fitness centers, as well as all establishments that sell alcohol, must close daily between 2200-0500. Restaurants may continue offering delivery and pickup services during those times but may not sell alcohol. Gyms and fitness centers, as well as outdoor entertainment venues, may operate at 33-percent capacity. Ski resorts can open but are limited to operating indoor facilities at 50-percent capacity.
New York State authorities continue to use a micro-cluster zone strategy, imposing tighter restrictions in areas most affected by COVID-19 activity. The micro-cluster zones are divided into three color-codes: yellow, orange, and red in order of lowest to highest risk. Areas that are within 21 days of reaching 90 percent hospital capacity, even after the cancellation of elective procedures and a 50 percent increase in bed numbers, are designated as red zones. Gatherings are prohibited; nonessential businesses must close; food and drink establishments can only operate for delivery and pickup; and in-person lessons in schools are canceled. Houses of worship can open at 25 percent capacity or up to a maximum of 10 people. As of Jan. 13, there are no areas designated as red zones.
Areas experiencing a test positivity rate of four percent over the last 10 days and located in a region that reached 85 percent hospital capacity are designated as orange zones. In orange zones, non-residential gatherings must be limited to 10 people; gyms and personal care businesses may open at 25-percent capacity; outdoor dining at restaurants is allowed. As of Jan. 13, areas in Chemung, Erie, Monroe, Niagara, Onondaga, and Westchester counties, as well as on Staten Island, are categorized as orange zones.
The yellow zone designation serves as a warning with no additional restrictions associated. It describes areas with test positivity rates of three percent and that are within the top 10 percent in the state for hospital admissions. Multiple locations, including in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, as well as in parts of Nassau and Westchester counties, are designated yellow zones.
Authorities require all persons, including essential workers, to wear facemasks when in public and whenever they cannot adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Travel RestrictionsNew York State also has travel restrictions in place. Under the current measures, incoming travelers who have spent over 24 hours in another noncontiguous state or in a country categorized at Level 2, 3, or 4 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. However, travelers who have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to their arrival in New York State may enter three days of quarantine upon arrival in the state and take a second test on day four. If the second test is negative, the individual may exit quarantine.
Travelers who were out of New York State for less than 24 hours are exempt from the quarantine requirement; however, such individuals must take a test 96 hours after returning to the state. All arriving travelers are required to fill out a Traveler Health Form. Persons who do not fill out the form are subject to a fine and possible quarantine. All travelers, except those traveling by air, fill out an online form. Air passengers fill out a form at the airport. Travelers from the neighboring states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, as well as essential workers, are exempt from all these requirements.
Travelers from countries categorized at Level 1 by the CDC are not subject to the quarantine or testing requirements. As of Dec. 14, there are 45 countries and territories at Level 1, including Australia, China, Ivory Coast, New Zealand, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.
All persons traveling to or from New York State should reconfirm entry and departure requirements before travel. Ensure that all required documentation has been completed to ensure ease of travel. Heed the directives of the local authorities. Plan for delays at entry points.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.
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