There’s no place like home for the holidays — especially in the age of COVID.
Mayor de Blasio urged New Yorkers to stay home this holiday season out of concerns that increased travel could lead to a second big wave of coronavirus in the Big Apple.
“I hate to say it, but I have to urge all New New Yorkers not to travel out of state for the holidays,” de Blasio said at his Tuesday press briefing. “Do not travel to a state with a high infection rate. Do not travel to a country with a high infection rate.”
Hizzoner’s message comes as COVID-19 cases are up both within the U.S. and abroad. America averaged 71,000 new coronavirus cases a day over the past week, and Italy and Spain have tightened restrictions on businesses in an effort to curb surges.
New York State’s restricted state quarantine list now covers travel from 40 high-risk states and territories seeing increased COVID numbers.
De Blasio conceded that while he could only make a recommendation on people’s travel plans, he stressed that most of those returning from out-of-state would have to observe a state-mandated two-week quarantine once back in the city.
Stepped-up enforcement of those quarantine rules will be in effect this holiday season, he added.
“Absolutely, you’re going to see a lot more enforcement. We have to,” he said. “I think people have gotten the message that quarantine really matters, but I think they need to get the message that if they violate quarantine, there will be consequences.”
De Blasio also demanded on Tuesday that the federal government require people traveling by plane be tested for COVID-19 prior to setting foot on their flights.
“You would have to have proof of a negative result to get on an airplane,” he said.
Whether the Republican-controlled federal government would take his advice is another matter, especially given that it has long ignored de Blasio’s pleas for a new stimulus package to help out with the city’s shattered economy.
With increased airplane ridership looming as the holiday season approaches, de Blasio suggested the city would exercise its own power at airports and promised stepped up testing of incoming passengers at city airports through the city’s Test and Trace Corps.
But he did not offer details on how the city plans to enact that or a timeline for how it would proceed.
As for his own travel plans this holiday season, de Blasio said his family have none.
“I say it to all New Yorkers, but I’m feeling it myself. We cherish traveling on the holidays and seeing our family. It’s been such a big part of our lives,” he said. “With the reality we’re facing, I can’t see traveling to family in other places.”
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