California, other West Coast states call for 14-day quarantine

Nov 13, 2020

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California, Oregon and Washington issued new travel advisories Friday, Nov. 13 asking all out-of-state visitors and residents returning home to self-quarantine for 14 days beginning immediately. The measure comes amidst a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases across the country.

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California Governor Gavin Newsom, Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued the new travel advisories and are also urging people not to do any non-essential out-of-state travel. They’re also asking residents not to travel far from their homes, even within their states.

Related: Are rapid COVID-19 tests the way to get people traveling again?

The quarantine is a recommendation, not a legal requirement.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said, “If you do not need to travel, you shouldn’t. This will be hard, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner. But the best way to keep your family safe is to stay close to home.”

Related: Airlines brace for busy Thanksgiving

Tim Jue is a San Francisco-based reporter covering airlines and travel. He reminded me that the city of San Francisco has had this recommendation in place for some time.

Jue told TPG, “I want to point out that these are so far only recommendations with no penalties, so I have to wonder how many people are going to abide by it, especially this close to the holiday when we’re hearing from the airlines that they’re expecting their busiest travel periods since March.”

Henry Harteveldt, president at Atmosphere Research Group called it an “unfortunate but necessary action reflecting the current public health environment.”

Harteveldt told TPG, “I would have preferred to see the governors offer travelers the option to quarantine for a few days after returning from their trips and taking an at-home Covid test. Those who test negative would be exempt from further quarantine, those who test positive would need to stay home for the remainder of their 14-day quarantine.”

But that’s not how California, Oregon, and Washington are handling it for the moment, at least.

“COVID cases have doubled in Washington over the past two weeks. This puts our state in as dangerous a position today as we were in March,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

Governor Newsom said in a statement, “California just surpassed a sobering threshold – one million COVID-19 cases – with no signs of the virus slowing down. Increased cases are adding pressure on our hospital systems and threatening the lives of seniors, essential workers and vulnerable Californians. Travel increases the risk of spreading COVID-19, and we must all collectively increase our efforts at this time to keep the virus at bay and save lives.”

For all things California, take a look at our Golden State hub.

Jue told TPG, “I’m not surprised about these recommendations at all. California, Washington and Oregon have seen lower infection rates compared to the rest of the nation, so this is really aimed at trying to prevent more cases from being imported from harder-hit states.”

Related: State-by-state guide to coronavirus reopening

Not everyone is happy about the new guidelines especially some folks in the travel business. JohnnyJet founder and editor-in-chief John E. DiScala (aka Johnny Jet) told TPG, “If the hospitals are getting full I can totally understand it. But from a tourism perspective it’s a killer and not just for the state of California but other destinations because residents returning also need to quarantine.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced enforcement measures would be stepped up beginning Nov. 4 at the state’s airports as the coronavirus outbreak spreads.  New York had required a two-week quarantine until very recently.

Related: 3 largest NYC airports now offer testing.

Now you can avoid a two-week quarantine in New York if you provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within three days of arrival, get another test on arrival, and then quarantine until the second test comes back negative. National Guard troops are being used at NYC-area airports to provide enforcement help. New York City police may also be assisting.

Related: Do you need a negative coronavirus test to fly?

The Pacific states won’t be going to those extremes. Newsom suggested that the best enforcement would come from peer-pressure. Newsom’s office stated that the best way to get people to follow the advisories is, “encouraging others to be respectable and be responsible by taking action. Asking people to do the right thing is the most powerful enforcement tool we have.”

Featured image of San Francisco International Airport in September 2020 by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.

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