Cuomo announces fines for travelers skirting quarantine rules

Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo has tasked Port Authority with ordering arrivals into New York airports from COVID-19-heavy states to hunker down for 14 days, and failure to check in with those enforcing this measure could face a $2,000 summons.

Cuomo plans to circumvent a repeat of the early months of 2020 when millions of travelers from Italy passed through New York metro-area airports, leading to cases of the virus climbing throughout March, April and May.

“The first mistake was bringing the virus from Europe to New York. The second mistake will bring it from Georgia to New York, Texas to New York, Arizona to New York and the 38 states that are experiencing their own mountain,” Cuomo said. “It was the federal government that caused our problem and then, frankly, wanted nothing to do with the solution.”

Alongside a silent Rick Cotton, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Cuomo said at his Manhattan office Monday that the transportation agency will handle sifting through travelers’ origin and destination in the downstate region.

The governor himself will not be issuing the order, however. It will come down from the state Department of Health for airlines to hand out a questionnaire with pertinent information to be handed to Port Authority upon landing. If an individual is not compliant, they face a civil summons. A court order can also be imposed on people to quarantine for a full 14 days.

“The other states didn’t start with a spike; they just had to stop it from increasing. With all we did in New York and all we knew [other states] were just blind to the reality,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said the state has a formula and guidelines that tell localities when and how schools may begin reopening, but that it would not go the route advocated by the federal government to proceed with this aspect of returning to normalcy.

Regions will make this call if their infection rate is below 5 percent or lower over a 14-day average, Cuomo said, and in phase four. But in schools, personal protective equipment will also be considered paramount to school bells ringing once again. New York City is currently in phase three of reopening and there have been no announcements toward when the state will allow for the next phase to begin.

If schools see a spike, there will be an emergency stop order put in place and if schools have other facilities to turn to that would be safer for students and staff, Cuomo said they could get approval to do so.

Entering phase three coupled with a debate at the city and state level as to whether or not indoor dining would be allowed. In the end, this facet was shelved for better times.

This story originally appeared on amny.com