NEW YORK, N.Y. — New York City will set up random checkpoints at major bridges and tunnels around the city starting today to enforce a mandatory two-week quarantine for travelers from 35 high-infection states.
Officials from the Sheriff’s Office will require travelers to complete a New York State Department of Health traveler form and quarantine for 14 days upon entry into the city.
Those who refuse to fill out the form will be fined $2,000 and travelers caught violating the two week quarantine could get hit with a $10,000 fine.
“The important thing is that the checkpoints I think are going to send a very powerful message, that this quarantine law is serious and important and crucial, and people have to follow it,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters during a press conference Wednesday announcing the city’s latest coronavirus restrictions.
Officials did not say where they would set up checkpoints or whether they would be at all bridges and tunnels across the city. The only location announced was Penn Station, where the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit plans to go to “educate travelers about New York State home-quarantine orders.”
De Blasio was also vague about how officials would minimize any potential traffic congestion the checkpoints might cause.
The mayor said traffic congestion was a concern but that officials were still in talks about potentially moving around checkpoint locations or have them set up for “limited periods of time” to ease congestion.
“There is a random component and we’re looking at a full fledge checkpoint where it is viable, and we’re also looking at individualized stops, where we think would be more suited to avoid having a traffic condition,” Sheriff Joseph Fucito told reporters.
Fucito said many of the Sheriff’s vehicles are equipped with license plate reader technology to help them identify out of state vehicles.
De Blasio indicated the checkpoints could last into the foreseeable future, saying they could continue “as long we think makes sense, and as extensively as we think makes sense.”
“[The checkpoints are] something that we’ll start at a certain level, if we think it’s an important tool and it’s really reaching people effectively, we might keep expanding it,” de Blasio said. “If we think the word has gotten across and we’re really seeing a high level of compliance, we might see it less, but we’re going to have to do it for a while to see what makes sense.”
During the two-week quarantine period, contact tracers will call travelers and offer them free food delivery, help them get any medication or a hotel if they need, and connect them with doctors over the phone.
Non-essential workers will not be permitted to leave their residence for two weeks or invite any guests over, other than caregivers. While essential workers will only be required to self-monitor their symptoms and limit their activities with other people for 14 days.
Essential workers will also be encouraged to get tested for the coronavirus if they are staying in New York City for more than 36 hours.
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