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Travel to New York City during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

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If you’re planning to travel to New York City, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

On May 19, New York state loosened up significantly on restrictions for businesses, gatherings and venues.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is targeting July 1 for New York City’s “full reopening,” including “full-strength” business at stores, theaters and restaurants.

New York City was the US epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, with hospitals struggling to cope with the influx of patients. Now, cases, hospitalizations and deaths are declining.

What’s on offer

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

Who can go

New York is subject to US government rules, meaning travel from Brazil, China, the European Schengen Area, India, Iran, Ireland, South Africa and the United Kingdom is not permitted. Exemptions are available for US citizens, family members or permanent residents. Travel from all other countries is allowed.

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

What are the restrictions?

Asymptomatic travelers entering New York from another country, US state or territory are not required to test or quarantine.

New York officials still recommend quarantine for all travelers who are not fully vaccinated or have not recovered from Covid-19 during the previous three months. Testing three to five days after arriving in New York is also recommended for these travelers.

Most travelers must continue to fill out the state’s Traveler Health Form upon entering New York. Limited exceptions include people coming from bordering states.

Every air traveler entering the United States needs a negative Covid-19 test result. Passengers are required to get a viral test within three days before their flight to the US departs and to provide documentation of their lab results or documentation of having recovered from Covid-19.

What’s the Covid situation?

As of June 10, 33,322 total confirmed and probable deaths and almost 951,600 total confirmed or probable cases were registered. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths were declining, with a test positivity rate of about 1.3% in the past 28 days.

What can visitors expect?

New York’s busy streets fell quiet at the start of the pandemic and recovery has been slow in the year since, although many areas, including Brooklyn, are busy again. According to eased rules that took effect on May 19 in the state, business capacity limits are now adjusted to a new distance-based maximum capacity.

So instead of limiting a restaurant’s indoor dining to 50% capacity, for example, the space will be free to welcome as many guests or groups of guests as can be spaced six feet apart. The numbers of people allowed for indoor and outdoor social gatherings will increase.

Indoor arenas are allowed to operate at 30% capacity. Fans still need to wear masks and test negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours of the event.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said venues in New York state will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity if all attendees are fully vaccinated.

Broadway is set to fully reopen in September, and tickets are now on sale. On June 19, Radio City Music Hall is set to operate at 100% capacity with no masks for the fully vaccinated. The city’s subway resumed 24-hour service on May 17.

Museums are open, but some are mandating timed reservations. Many are gradually increasing capacity as the city eases restrictions.

A trip to NYC could cost you less now, too. Mayor de Blasio signed an executive order eliminating the 5.875% hotel room occupancy tax rate from June 1 to August 31.

Getting in and out of the often-dreaded LaGuardia Airport might be easier this summer with the early completion of Terminal C’s new outer roadway system, part of a massive overhaul of the airport that will eventually include a mass transit link to Manhattan.

The state of New York has launched the Excelsior Pass, which allows people who have received a negative test or a vaccination in New York state to provide proof of their status. The digital pass is not a requirement for venues or events that require testing or vaccinations to enter, so a traveler from another state could use their own vaccination card or lab test result to enter.

Useful links

New York State Covid-19 microsite

CDC Travel Health

New York State Traveler Health Form

Our recent coverage

There are two new attractions added to the NYC roster. Read about Little Island, which sits in Hudson River, and a spectacular elevator at One Vanderbilt tower.

Check out our New Yorker’s guide to eating out safely during the pandemic, or read about the bar Dante, which was named the second best in the world this year.

Consider a post-pandemic stay at the first hotel on Roosevelt Island, a sliver of an island in the East River with a notorious past.

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CNN Newsource


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