CLEVELAND, Ohio — New York, which has maintained some of the country’s strictest entry requirements in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19, has eased its rules – although they’re still likely to keep most visitors away.
The new requirements took affect this week, replacing a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival that essentially prohibited leisure travelers from visiting the state.
Instead of the 14-day quarantine, travelers to New York can now: take a COVID test within three days of arrival, quarantine in New York for three days, then take a second test on day four. If both tests are negative, the visitor is free to roam about the state (although nonessential travel is still discouraged).
The rules are already generating concern among the Greater Cleveland ski community, as several western New York resorts draw big crowds from Ohio.
Jane Eshbaugh, director of marketing at Holiday Valley resort in Ellicottville, N.Y., estimates that approximately 30% of the resort’s skiers are from Ohio. New York’s travel rules, she said, “are not ideal for our weekend visitors, obviously.”
New York implemented its first travel advisory in June, in conjunction with New Jersey and Connecticut, essentially prohibiting visitors from states with high coronavirus infection rates. Since then, Ohio has bounced on and off the list, as COVID cases have increased and decreased in the state.
Ohio, experiencing a sustained spike in cases for several weeks now, has been on the New York list since mid-October.
Exempted from the rules are residents of neighboring states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.
Among those who will be affected by the new rules: Thousands of Greater Cleveland skiers, who routinely travel to western New York ski resorts, including Peek’n Peak in Clymer and Holiday Valley and HoliMont in Ellicottville. Many Northeast Ohioans own property in western New York, about two hours from Cleveland.
Eshbaugh said the Ski Areas of New York, an association that represents more than 50 resorts in the state, is working to get the rules altered before the beginning of ski season.
New York rules do allow out-of-state travelers to visit for 24 hours or less without quarantining or taking a COVID test, so skiers could come in just for the day.
The rules also apply to New Yorkers who leave the state for more than 24 hours.
In any case, enforcement of the requirements – both the old rules and the new – has been inconsistent at best, largely left up to individual travelers. Some New York hotels, however, have denied reservations to travelers from states on the advisory list.
Violators face a fine of up to $2,000 for a first offense.
Travelers who fly into New York may have a more difficult time evading the rules, with enforcement officers sometimes greeting arriving flights.
All travelers to the state are required to fill out a Traveler Health Form, which includes contact information, and details about the trip, including destination and duration of stay.
©2020 The Plain Dealer, Cleveland