Skip to content

My New York State quarantine, and the new rules for travelers

Nov. 14, 2020
9 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

New York recently changed the entry requirement rules to eliminate a full 14-day quarantine for some travelers. Unfortunately, you'll need to jump through lots of hoops to travel to the Empire State.

And you'll still need to quarantine for at least three full days before you can get a required second test.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

I thought it might be useful to explain what it was like to go through the quarantine when I did it last month. Keep reading for details on the new rules and enforcement measures.

Related: West Coast states now "requesting" 14-day quarantine

Flying into JFK

I had spent much of the early months of the pandemic at my father's ranch near Butte, Montana traveling around the West, and it was my first time heading back to my apartment in New York City. I was nervous about what the quarantine might entail, but I found it was pretty non-invasive overall.

Related: New rules for entry into New York

I flew from Butte, Montana (BTM) to Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) for my connection to New York-JFK. I arrived late on October 6, and the airport was nearly deserted. There were no personnel or airport workers checking passengers at the gate area and almost no one in the whole terminal at that late hour.

Quarantine procedures at JFK

In fact, I saw no sign of quarantine measures or procedures until I got to the baggage claim area. You'd need to be looking to find the information station, and if you were not picking up bags, I think you could miss it entirely. There was a small table set up with forms and a box to put them in, but no one was manning the table.

Sign up for our daily newsletter
Self-service quarantine forms at JFK Airport. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

There were forms in English and in Spanish. There were also pens set up (which has been a problem for some travelers apparently). You were expected to fill out the forms at the table and put them in the cardboard box. I didn't see a single person from my flight fill out the forms, and again there was no one manning the table so you could easily just exit the terminal with no further checks.

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

Cardboard box where you deposit quarantine forms. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Small table set up with quarantine forms at JFK. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Registering for quarantine online

The good news is that arriving passengers are also able to notify the state of their quarantine online. That's what I ended up doing. Once I filled out the online form, I received the notification below and was asked to screenshot it for the state (no one ever asked to see it). It says that you are to show it to a compliance agent, but I assume that is if you've filled it out beforehand and are arriving in New York.

Confirmation of quarantine traveler health form completion.

Follow-ups on the quarantine

The day after I registered, I got a text message from the state of New York saying "You recently traveled to NYC from a state with a high rate of COVID-19. State law REQUIRES that you quarantine for 14 days from the day you left that state."

Text message from the state of New York about the required quarantine.

I also got a long voicemail from the New York Health Department saying essentially the same thing. The only other follow-ups I got were two telephone calls. One came a few days after I'd registered with a health worker who sounded a little surprised I was so eager to hear from her. She asked if I was following protocols and if I felt well. That was pretty much all she asked. I volunteered a lot of additional information that she didn't seem interested in. I get the sense that these workers aren't often treated that well on the phone.

The day before the end of my quarantine on Oct. 19, I got a second call from a friendlier agent with similar questions and congratulations that I'd completed the quarantine. That was it. I haven't heard anything since that call.

Getting a COVID-19 test in New York City

The only time you are allowed to leave your home during quarantine is for medical reasons or to get tested for coronavirus. The day after my flight, I went to one of the CityMD clinics in Manhattan. CityMD is one of the few chains that are offering easy testing in the city. It took about an hour in line on 14th Street before I could reach the workers, but they did confirm I could get a COVID-19 PCR nasal swab test for free (I didn't have health insurance at the time). It was a fairly quick process with the doctor asking the states I'd been in, and if I was fulfilling the required quarantine. It only took about 15 minutes once I was inside the building. I got the results about 78 hours later via email that I was negative. I was happy to be able to tell the health workers who called me that I'd been tested and was negative.

Related: New York City reopening

New procedures for entry to New York

As of Nov. 4, 2020, there are new procedures to enter New York that can get most visitors out of a two-week quarantine. Unfortunately, there are still many hurdles. You can essentially "test out" of the mandatory 14-day quarantine. All arrivals must continue to fill out the Traveler Health Form.

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

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said, ".. travel has become an issue - the rest of the states pose a threat. We're going to a new plan given the changing facts, and the experts suggest we shift to a testing policy. So there will be no quarantine list; there will be one rule that applies across the country. We bent the curve of this virus by following the data and the science, and we are continuing that approach with these new guidelines."

Related: Airlines brace for busy Thanksgiving

Anyone who spent more than 24 hours out of state will need to get a COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure. On arrival in New York, they may need to show those test results and fill out the traveler form. A mandatory quarantine of three days is still required. On Day Four of quarantine, the traveler has to get another COVID-19 test. If both tests are negative, quarantine is over.

Note that essential workers and residents of states contiguous with New York are exempt from the rules.

What about New Jersey and Connecticut?

Both New Jersey and Connecticut are still requiring most out-of-state visitors to quarantine for 14-days.

Related: Reopening America; a state-by-state guide

Sporadic but increasing enforcement

The quarantine procedures and enforcement have been erratic, to say the least in New York state. A friend, Jason Phillips, told me workers were checking every single passenger back in the summer.

Phillips was flying from Florida to New York's La Guardia back on July 7. He told TPG, “In my experience, Delta Air Lines passed out New York State health department forms to be filled out before landing. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a pen so I thought I was off the hook until I got to the exit headed towards baggage where they made everybody turn in or fill out a health form." Phillips continued, "They started calling the following day until they reached me." He said after he talked to a live health worker, he got a text from the state every day until the quarantine was over. Phillips said, "Personally it made me proud of the state of New York for looking out for us."

My experience was much laxer, but New York is again cracking down on enforcement of its policies and procedures.

Related: 3 largest NYC airports now offer testing

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sent in National Guard troops to New York-area airports to begin better enforcement of the rules. Cuomo said, "You should not land if you do not have proof of a negative test upon landing. I want people to know we're serious."

According to the New York Daily News, the NYPD and the Port Authority are now also helping with enforcement.

In fact, another friend told me he was on a Delta flight from Orlando to New York-JFK on Nov. 11, and there were three Guardsmen handing out clipboards and verifying that each passenger had filled out the entry form. If you hadn't already done it online, then they were requiring you to fill out the paper form. Many passengers hadn't been tested prior to arrival and they would be subject to the 14-day quarantine.

My advice to any would-be visitors is to follow the letter of the law. Many folks have skipped the quarantine and took a chance they wouldn't be caught. Those ignoring the law are not only putting themselves and others at risk, but they could face a fine of up to $10,000. It's a $2,000 fine to refuse to fill out the travel form.

Featured image by Getty Images

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023