New York wants visitors to test for COVID-19 before and after arrival

The sun rises behind the New York City skyline, seen from Jersey City, N.J.
The sun rises behind the New York City skyline, seen from Jersey City, N.J., in 2019.
(J. David Ake / Associated Press)

New York state, tightening restrictions in the face of rising infections nationwide, is now requiring most U.S. visitors to pass two COVID-19 tests with a three-day quarantine in between.

The new requirement, announced Saturday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, takes effect Wednesday and is likely to affect thousands of Californians. It means a visitor from another U.S. state (except those whose borders touch New York) will need to test negative within three days of departure from that state.

Then, upon arrival in New York state, the visitor must quarantine for three days.

On the fourth day, the visitor must be tested again. If both test results are negative, the visitor’s quarantine obligations end. Essential workers are exempted. If a visitor takes no tests, a 14-day quarantine is required.


Noting that New York has one of the lowest positivity rates in the U.S., Cuomo said “travel has become an issue — the rest of the states pose a threat.”

Nationwide, the rate of new COVID-19 cases has been climbing since mid-September. A New York Times analysis of rates shows that as of Monday, New York state’s daily average of new cases per 100,000 residents was 10.5. California’s rate was 10.7.

Cuomo’s move “is definitely a step in the right direction,” said Christopher Heywood, executive vice president for global communications at the tourism organization NYC & Company. Heywood said in an email that the new approach “gives us an opportunity to resume travel at the right moment.”

Until Saturday, New York was using a regularly updated quarantine list based on COVID-19 infection rates. Visitors from states with lower infection rates (which had included California in recent weeks) were allowed in without mandatory quarantines.

The tighter new restriction applies to anyone who is in a state outside New York for 24 hours or more. Thus, any New Yorker returning from a two-day leisure trip beyond adjacent states would face the same requirements.


The exempted contiguous states are Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.

New York City tourism statistics show that California sends more visitors to the city than any other noncontiguous state — about one in 20 visitors in recent years.

Though Broadway theaters and most performing arts venues remain shuttered, many of Manhattan’s best-known attractions have reopened in recent weeks, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History and the High Line.

New York tracks visitors through Traveler Health Forms. Anyone who arrives by air and leaves an airport without filling out the form is subject to a possible $2,000 fine and mandatory quarantine.