Traveling from New York State during Covid
We are approaching the end of February which means it has been almost a full year since Covid-19 shut down the world and New York state. If you live in NY you know we have been affected more than most states. We had more lock downs, business closures, and restrictions than almost any other state in the union. As a travel advisor, NY basically shut down my business with madoatory travel quarantines both domestic and international. I have travel advisor friends from all over the country that I speak with on a regular basis. The pandemic tremendously hurt their business, but not nearly as bas as us in NY. Many of them saw a come back last fall (in to this winter) with record sales as resorts and destinations reopened with new Covid friendly procedures. I'm not getting political and trying to compare policies from state to state. That is way above my pay grade. I'm just stating the obvious - Traveling from NY has and continues to be tougher than from other states. I'm here to tell you it is getting easier to travel. This month was our busiest travel sales month since February of last year. Don't get me wrong, we are not back to normal yet but at least we can finally see light at the end of the tunnel. To my NY friends, it's time to travel again!
My first suggestion, get the vaccine as soon as it's offered to you. My wife (a school teacher) and both of my parents have received the vaccine and had zero side effects (other than arm soreness where the shot was administered but that happens with all shots). It hasn't been announced yet, but it seems the CDC (and hopefully NY) is leaning towards reducing travel related Covid procedures for those who have received the vaccine. I know I'll be signing up as soon as it's available to me. I have many friends on social media that continue to post they will never get the vaccine. I guess they think they'll grow a 3rd eye, or that Bill gates can track them with a microchip. I'm not in to conspiracy theories but everyone has a right to their own opinions. I believe and hope that a majority of people will get the vaccine and end the fear of Covid soon.
What do I think has been halting travel from NY? There are two things. 1) quarantines for those traveling out of state and 2) fear. Over 500,000 people have died in the US from Covid so I understand the fear. However, it is possible to travel safely. I have taken several trips since Covid started. I followed all instructions given to me and I felt no more fear travelling than I do going to Wegmans or Home Depot. I think we have been conditioned to fear the virus in NY. Day in and day out we see business closed. I walked through the McKinley Mall for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I know the mall was struggling before Covid, but it is really struggling now. More closed stores than open stores. The food court closed. It's not just the mall. Restaurants all over have been shut down or only allowed to do take out. Gyms closed and more. We were unable to get together to celebrate the Bills in their playoff run. I can only imagine the party it would have been in a normal year. My point, seeing everything closed has taken a toll on our psyching and caused more fear.
During my travels it's amazing to see how different things are from state to state. I travelled to Jamaica 2 weeks ago. The Buffalo airport was a ghost town. Every other seat blocked with tape (which is dumb because that prevents me from sitting next to my wife), the food court is still closed (and lord knows I needed a coffee and muffin from Tim Hortons). Then I get to Baltimore where I had to connect for my Southwest flight to Jamaica. Wow what an eye opener. The airport was actually busy! Everyone was wearing mask and social distancing but things were different. There was life! I was able to order breakfast and a coffee as every restaurant was open. There were signs telling people to social distance but they didn't tape off every other seat. It was refreshing to see people safely travelling and living life. People in other states (Baltimore in this example) are not as afraid as us in NY).
With all that being said I believe it's time to travel again. Below are the current procedures. I know it's still too much for many of you. But I encourage you to consider booking a trip soon.
TRAVEL FROM NEW YORK STATE
If you want to travel out of state no problem. Most states do not require anything. Heading to Florida, no problem. Board your plane and enjoy your trip. All airports are requiring you wear a mask at all times (unless you are seated and eating or drinking). Airlines are also requiring you wear a mask the entire duration of your flight unless you are eating or drinking. The airports and planes are cleaner than ever with new CDC guidelines they must follow. Airplanes are all equipped with HEPA air filters that completely switch out the air in the fuselage every 2 to 4 minutes.
Returning home: Here is where it get's a little more tricky. If you travel for longer than 24 hours to any noncontiguous state, US territory or CDC level 2 and higher country you need to complete a NY state traveler from upon entry back to NY. This can be done at the airport or online. You will then be required to quarantine for 10 days at home upon your return. However it is possible to reduce that by testing out of the quarantine.
For travelers who were out-of-state for more than 24 hours:
- Travelers must obtain a test within three days of departure, prior to arrival in New York.
- The traveler must, upon arrival in New York, quarantine for three days.
- On day 4 of their quarantine, the traveler must obtain another COVID test. If both tests comes back negative, the traveler may exit quarantine early upon receipt of the second negative diagnostic test.
Traveling out of the country isn't much different. Depending on the country you may have to take additional steps. For Jamaica I had to complete a form online 5 days before travel and show a negative Covid test (within 10 days prior to arrival). Other locations such as Mexico and Punta Cana do not require a test. Make sure to check the policies for your destination. This should be provided to you by your travel advisor or simply search it in google. For all countries level 2 or higher it is now mandatory to complete a test within 3 days to come back to the US (CDC policy). Most resorts are providing this test free of charge at the resort. In Jamaica it took about 10 minutes out of my day to walk down to the designated testing area and complete the test. The results were ready within minutes and they gave me paperwork to present to the airline. Easy. Upon my return I quarantined for 3 days and then on the 4th day I went to a local drug store for a rapid test and was able to leave quarantine. So you will have to work from home for 4 days - but I am hopeful this changes soon.
What happens if I test positive for Covid while at a resort?
This doesn't happen often but there is a chance obviously. The airports, transfers, resorts, tours, etc are all following strict guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid. If you are in a country that requires a Covid test you know that all of the guests also had to take that test. Personally, I like to socialize and meet people. I have made an emphasis on social distancing when talking to others. I think everyone has. But let's say you test positive at the resort. Most resorts are allowing you to stay free of charge for up to 14 days to quarantine if you test positive. I joked when I tested negative in Jamaica because 10-14 extra days in my suite over looking the ocean with free room service didn't sound too bad. Of course I was joking I would rather not be stuck somewhere, but the resorts will take care of you. Now more than ever I encourage guests to purchase travel insurance... just in case.
Refundable deposits and great deals!
It is a great time to book your next vacation. We have great deals that will not last forever. Many resorts are offering refundable deposits as well so you have zero risk! Call me and let's start planning your next vacation.
Travel agents are free and important
If you have purchased a trip on your own in the past it is not time to consider a travel agent. We work for free and are paid by the resorts. If something goes wrong we are here to help. It is much easier getting in touch with us than waiting on hold for countless hours if you have questions or need to make a change. We have great contacts with the resorts and airlines and can make things happen for you if needed.