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 an increase in infections in late 2020 through January and new lockdown measures were put in place. Those numbers have been falling in recent weeks, 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 but must have a Covid-19 PCR test within three days of arrival, then self-isolate for three days and do another test. Those who do not take any tests have to be quarantined for 14 days. Individuals from states bordering New York City are exempt from the testing regime, but must complete this form.

On Wednesday, 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 be required to test and quarantine.

What are the limitations?

New York City has strict policies on domestic and international travelers. People from bordering states are not subject to testing or quarantine restrictions. However, travelers from all other states must have a PCR test within three days of arrival, and then self-isolate for three days before doing another test. Travelers who have been fully vaccinated in the past 90 days can bypass these requirements.

International travelers to destinations with a level 2 risk and higher, as defined in the CDC Travel Health Notice, must follow the same rules. Please visit the Covid-19 Travel Advice website for full instructions.

And from January 26, every air traveler entering the United States will need 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.

Travelers leaving New York State for less than 24 hours for a non-contiguous state are not required to take a test prior to their return. However, you will need to fill out a traveler health form and take a test four days after your return.

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 10, nearly 30,000 confirmed and probable deaths and 762,000 confirmed or probable cases had 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, events, arts 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.

Eating indoors is currently permitted with a capacity of 35%. From March 19th, a capacity of 50% is allowed.

Outdoor dining continues and restaurants and bars are developing ad hoc structures. Tent canopies and heaters are used over the winter. 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.

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 Safe Eating 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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