| New York State Team
Holiday traffic: When not to drive, airport expectations
Here’s what you need to know about the worst times to hit the road and what to expect at the airport this holiday season.
ALBANY – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has a message for fellow New Yorkers: Stay home this holiday season.
The mayor of the nation’s largest city on Tuesday urged residents to simply avoid traveling out of state during the holidays for vacation or to visit family, fearing too much movement could lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases, reports The Journal News, a USA TODAY Network publication.
“We have a real threat of a second wave here in New York City, and we’ve been fighting it back, but we can’t take it lightly,” the Democratic mayor said at a briefing.
“So, most importantly, I want to recommend to all New Yorkers, it’s not business as usual. I hate to say it, but I have to urge all New Yorkers, do not travel out of state for the holidays.”
New York City was the hardest hit by the virus last spring, with nearly 24,000 confirmed and probable COVID deaths.
But the city and state have been able to lower its deaths and infection rates to among the lowest in the nation due to strong social distancing and mask-wearing requirements, as well as restrictions on businesses.
COVID safety steps in New York
Gov. Andrew Cuomo implemented a quarantine plan in June that requires, as of this week, travelers coming from 41 states and territories to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine upon arrival to New York, including the three most-populous states in the country — California, Florida and Texas.
Cuomo too has urged caution about traveling outside the state, including to neighboring states where infection rates have also grown.
“To the extent travel among the states or between the states is not essential, it should be avoided,” Cuomo said Oct. 20.
Cuomo was asked what he would recommend for Thanksgiving gatherings during an Oct. 15 virtual event to promote his book, where he was interviewed by Bravo TV personality and producer Andy Cohen.
Cuomo told Cohen he would “play it safe” for the holidays.
“I would be safe, I really would,” Cuomo said. “I talked to my mother about it yesterday. I think it’s a mistake to get casual and to get cocky. Look, if everybody got a test within 24 hours, 48 hours, that’s sort of the best you can do. But even that’s not a guarantee because you could have picked it up since you got a test.”
Cuomo said people need to be particularly safe with their elderly relatives.
“Especially for older people, I would be very, very safe” he said. “I know it’s terrible, but I would try to find a way to make it fun the best you can. But with my mother, I’m going to be playing it safe, that’s the God’s honest truth.”
What New York is doing to slow the flow of traffic
De Blasio said New Yorkers should especially not travel to states or countries with high infection rates
“I know there are painful choices, especially if you haven’t seen family in a long time, and you’re worried about older relatives in other places, I get it,” he said.
“But my recommendation based on the information I’ve received from our health care leadership is to avoid travel this holiday season, to stay safe, to keep us all safe.”
He also encouraged those who return to New York to get tested for COVID and abide by the quarantine order.
New York already asks people who return through airports to complete a questionnaire about their travel and to quarantine; the city also has random checkpoints where it stops out-of-state travelers
De Blasio called on the federal government to implement a mandate that anyone who gets on an airplane needs to first have a negative coronavirus test within the previous 72 hours, calling it a “simple, common sense standard.”
He said the city has already bolstered its own COVID testing at its airports for arrivals.
“We want to make it easy and clear that anyone coming off a plane should immediately get tested,” de Blasio said.
“We know testing has made all the difference. Why don’t we use that tool that we know works to protect people who travel and protect all of us? I know New Yorkers believe in being tough and rigorous in fighting this disease. This is the kind of thing that would help us so much.”
Follow Joseph Spector on Twitter: @GannettAlbany