Travel to New York City During Covid-19: What You Need To Know Before You Go

If you are planning to travel to New York City, here are some things to know and expect if you plan to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

New York City was the U.S. epicenter of the March 2020 Covid-19 pandemic and hospitals struggled to cope with the influx of patients.

After a lighter summer, there was a spike in infections in late 2020 through January and new lockdown measures were put in place. Those numbers have dropped significantly, despite researchers reporting a worrying new variant of the coronavirus in the city.

What is on offer?

This is the ultimate city break. New York has the largest skyline in the world; Culture from the Guggenheim to MoMA; spectacular food, from Chinese delights in Flushing to Italian delights in the Bronx; and the green sweep of Central Park to the bustling Lower East Side.

Who can go

New York is regulated by the US government, which means that travel from Brazil, China, the European Schengen Area, Iran, Ireland, South Africa, and the United Kingdom is not permitted. Exceptions apply to U.S. citizens, family members, or permanent residents. Travel from all other countries is allowed.

All air travelers entering the United States must now have a negative Covid-19 test result.

Out-of-state travelers are allowed to enter New York State with some restrictions (see below).

What are the limitations?

New York has strict policies on domestic and international travelers.

Out-of-state travelers are allowed to enter New York state but are currently required to quarantine for 10 days or apply a testing scheme to shorten the quarantine. To shorten this, a Covid-19 PCR test must be performed within three days of arrival. The travelers must then be quarantined for three days and then perform a second test with negative results.

However, domestic travelers no longer need to be quarantined after arriving from another U.S. state or territory as of April 1, although the health department continues to recommend quarantine after domestic travel as an additional precaution.

Mandatory quarantines will remain in effect for international travelers after April 1st.

Individuals from states bordering New York are exempt from quarantine or testing, but must complete this form. Please visit the Covid-19 Travel Advice website for full instructions.

On March 3, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that US visitors from other states who have been fully vaccinated in the past 90 days will no longer need to test and quarantine.

Every air traveler entering the United States must have a negative Covid-19 test result. Passengers must have a virus test performed and document their laboratory results or recovery from Covid-19 within three days of their departure for the United States.

Anyone staying in New York hotels and short term rentals must complete a Traveler Health Form prior to arrival.

How is the Covid situation?

After months of falling daily cases in New York City, the number of infections rose again in the fall of 2020, with a record high in early January before declining again. As of March 19, more than 30,000 confirmed and probable deaths and 791,000 confirmed or probable cases have been recorded.

What can visitors expect?

New York’s busy streets went quiet at the beginning of the pandemic and have been slow to recover in the months since, although many areas, including Brooklyn, are again busy.

Cuomo’s March 3 announcement will ease state and city restrictions in the coming weeks.

Starting March 22nd, the capacity for outdoor gatherings will increase from 10 to 25 people. The limit for indoor gatherings remains 10 people.

For social gatherings in public spaces, the capacity limits for indoor events are increased from 50 to 100 people and the capacity for outdoor events from 50 to 200 people.

The governor said social distancing and mask requirements for gatherings remain in place.

From April 2nd, event, art and entertainment venues can reopen with 33% capacity limited to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors. When participants are tested, the capacity increases to 150 people indoors and 500 people outdoors – with requirements for distancing and face-covering.

Indoor dining was expanded to 50% on March 19th.

Outdoor dining continues and restaurants and bars are developing ad hoc structures. Bars and restaurants have to close at 11 p.m.

The museums are open but have started making timed reservations to comply with the lower capacity rules. MoMA, the Museum of Natural History, and the Whitney all operate a pre-purchased ticket policy. Visitors should expect temperature checks on arrival.

Large sports arenas with a capacity of 10% have been allowed to operate since February 23. However, fans must wear a mask and test negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours of the event. Outdoor stadiums will soon reopen with a capacity of 20%.

The non-essential retail trade is open. However, masks are mandatory in public and social distancing guidelines must be followed at all times.

usefull links

New York State Covid-19 microsite

CDC Travel Health

New York State Traveler Health Form

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Read our New York Guide to Eating Safely During the Pandemic, or read more about Bar Dante, named second best in the world this year.

Would you like to eat good Indian food? You can find it across the water in New Jersey. Or enjoy New York cheesecake on our list of the world’s best desserts.

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