Countries across the globe have imposed harsh restrictions on travelers – if not banned travel altogether – to curb the spread of coronavirus. Now, those policies are becoming more common for trying to travel to individual U.S. states.
For months, Hawaii has essentially banned travel to the islands by requiring a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. Alaska has given visitors the option of providing a negative COVID-19 test result or quarantining.
On Wednesday, governors from the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut announced their own restrictions on travelers from states where coronavirus outbreaks are still rapidly growing, requiring a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
The mandatory quarantine applies to states with infection rates above 10%. That currently includes Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington.
These restrictions take effect at midnight Thursday.
After getting their own coronavirus outbreaks under control, these three states are essentially saying “no thanks” to travelers from other states that are now struggling.
“We have to make sure the virus doesn’t come on again in a plane,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, according to ABC News. “We worked hard to get the viral transmission down and don’t want it to go back up again.”
Cuomo said visitors who break the quarantine requirement could face judicial order or an initial fine of up to $2,000.
It’s unclear whether returning residents will be subjected to the same quarantine period. It’s also unclear if travelers who transit through an affected state on their way to the tri-state area (for example, by flying from California to Texas and onward to New York) would be required to self-quarantine.
While just a handful of states are currently, this could quickly snowball. Coronavirus cases continue to climb in the U.S., which could mean travelers from other states may eventually make the list. It’s essentially a domestic travel ban.
Perhaps more troubling, other states across the nation could follow the lead of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut and impose their own domestic travel bans.