Politico

De Blasio to New Yorkers: 'Do not travel out of state for the holidays'


Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging New Yorkers not to travel over the holiday season as the city tries to fend off a second wave of the coronavirus.

De Blasio said Tuesday that because of the public health crisis, city residents should forego their usual trips to see family for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The city will ramp up enforcement of rules requiring travelers entering New York from high-risk states — which cover the vast majority of the country — to quarantine for two weeks, the mayor said.

“I hate to say it, but I have to urge all New Yorkers: Do not travel out of state for the holidays,” de Blasio said. “Realize that by doing that, unfortunately, you could be putting yourself and your family in danger.”

The city has been battling outbreaks of the virus in neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens and new cases have been on the rise, surpassing a threshold of 550 this week. But New York’s infection rate remains lower than in most of the country, where Covid-19 is spreading uncontrolled.

De Blasio urged the federal government to mandate that all passengers on airplanes present proof of a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours before being allowed to board.

Several airlines have abandoned efforts to ensure social distancing and begun selling flights to full capacity, no longer blocking off middle seats.

The city will work with the state to step up testing at LaGuardia and JFK airports, de Blasio said, urging New Yorkers who do choose to travel for the holidays to get tested.

The city has set up roving checkpoints to require people entering by car to fill out a required travel registration form, but only one person has been fined for breaking the two-week quarantine, according to the New York Post.

“You’re absolutely going to see a lot more enforcement,” de Blasio said. “I think people have gotten the message that quarantine matters, but I think they need to get the message that if they violate quarantine, there will be consequences.”

The city reported a 2.48 percent positive test rate and 528 new cases on Tuesday. Hospitals admitted 60 patients.

The coming holiday season will be a decisive point in New York’s effort to keep the virus contained, officials predicted.

“We’re going to feel that pull to want to be with our families, want to be with our loved ones. We’re going to feel that pull to do what we would do in a normal year. But it’s not a normal year,” de Blasio said.

“We have a real threat of a second wave here in New York City,” he said. “We can’t let all of our progress slip away because lots of people travel here and lots of us travel elsewhere, and that spreads the disease rapidly.”

The mayor, who grew up in Massachusetts and typically travels to see family in New England over the holidays, said he plans to hunker down in the city instead.

“It’s painful,” he said. “With the reality we’re facing, I can’t see traveling to family in other places. I can’t see it working for anybody. It’s sad. It’s very sad.”

Several “red zone” neighborhoods in Brooklyn where Covid-19 cases have spiked remain under shutdown orders from the state, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted most restrictions in other hotspots in Queens.

“If you’re looking at that whole red zone, certainly some of the areas have made a lot of progress. I’m hopeful we’ll have some good news there. Others may take a bit longer,” de Blasio said, acknowledging he was out of the loop on how Cuomo plans to approach updating the red zone maps. “I’m very hopeful over this week and next week we can get all those areas out of those restrictions.”

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