The coronavirus pandemic has forever changed the way New Yorkers should travel. Face masks and hand sanitizers have become as common to carry as a wallet or a phone. Many Long Island residents remain terrified to set foot inside of an airport, and stopping at rest areas on a road trip could become a thing of the past.
Despite recent reports from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) that classify recent national upticks of COVID-19 as ‘low’, the spread of coronavirus remains a significant threat. Traveling throughout New York State this summer is not an impossible fret to take on. However, staying educated on COVID-19trends and knowing what safety measures to take are two crucial steps New Yorkers must take to prevent the occurrence of secondary outbreaks.
Current COVID-19 Hotspots
While New York State continues to see a downward trend in COVID-19 activity, several parts of the country are experiencing a rapid increase. As of July 5, the COVID-19 Tracking Project reported that 21 states surpassed their previous records for the highest number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths reported in a week.
The states currently experiencing the most significant surges in coronavirus activity include Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas.
Traveling strictly within New York State does not make you immune to the rising health concerns in other parts of our nation. Upstate New York and New York City remain high-traffic tourist destinations for Americans, including those currently looking to escape the threat of COVID-19 hotspots.
To reduce the risk of further spread, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have all implemented travel advisories during this time to help reduce the risk of secondary outbreaks. All out-of-state visitors from states with elevated coronavirus activity are required to self-quarantine for 14-days upon arrival before they travel more freely within the state.
NYS COVID-19 Regulations
Face coverings are not only highly recommended by health experts and backed by the World Health Organization, but the use of face coverings in New York State is still mandated under most circumstances.
Effective as of April 17, Governor Cuomo issued executive orders 202.17 and 202.18, stating “any individual who is over the age of two and able to medically tolerate a face-covering shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance.”
While recommendations for best safety practices to contain the spread of COVID-19 throughout New York businesses may vary depending on the industry, promoting social distancing and providing ample room for customers to stand, wait, or to be served are required. If you see a business operating that is not following these basic safety procedures, it is best not to take the risk of stopping or entering an establishment.
Safest Way to Travel
Traveling by plane, bus, train, or other shared methods of transportation poses a higher risk of spreading COVID-19. Even when taking extreme precautions, it is impossible to avoid sitting or standing in proximity of other travelers when you are enclosed in a vessel or waiting among crowded terminals.
Driving, while historically more dangerous in regard to vehicle accidents, is considered the healthiest mode of travel with the highest number of controlled variables. When riding in the car, you can control the number of passengers, where you stop, and how many other people you come in contact with.
Where to Travel in NY
Businesses have been reopening across New York State for weeks now, but no region is fully back up and running quite yet. Each region has entered a reopening phase based on its COVID-19 activity level and the ability to implement safety measures to reduce exposure. Phases not only limit which locations can open and when, but determine the capacity and guidelines required by each business.
When planning your trip, research the phase or reopening status of each destination of interest. You can find the most updated information on phased reopening through New York Forward.
What Activities are Safest
The key to staying safe while traveling is to avoid activities that increase your exposure to crowds, enclosed spaces, and contaminated surfaces. Camping, hiking, swimming, and other outdoor recreational activities allow New Yorkers the most freedom to move about and avoid large gatherings.
For more information on locations available for travel in New York, I Love NY provides a full list of what is open and to what extent.
How to Protect Yourself While Traveling
Changing the way you travel to protect your health is essential as we continue to monitor active outbreaks of coronavirus nationwide. The C.D.C. recommends all travelers, regardless of how far you are driving within the state, adhere to the following travel precautions on road trips:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after touching surfaces, being in a public place, coughing, sneezing, toughing your face, or eating;
- Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available;
- Limit stops made to reduce contact with others;
- Bring extra medicine and supplies;
- Spread out and allow for ample room between groups;
- Avoid touching your nose, eyes, or mouth;
- Stay 6-feet apart from others;
- Wear a face covering when in public places;
- Do not travel if you are feeling unwell and monitor your health during the trip; and
- Pick up food instead of dining or bring your own food to cook at campsites or lodgings.
How to Track Your Risk
Google recently released a new online tool to help travelers decide where to visit and stop on their trips. The feature highlights COVID hot-spots and alerts travelers of areas with elevated levels of coronavirus activity. Google also provides travelers with specific information on the mandated safety requirements for locations and what phase or reopening they are in.
Avoiding travel altogether as we continue to struggle through these unprecedented times is highly recommend. However, if you do choose to travel this summer, prioritizing safety is the best possible way to protect your family, your community, and our state. Travel safe, NY.
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