NYC Mayor Urges New Yorkers Not to Travel for the Holidays

Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center

New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio cautioned residents against traveling out of state for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in states all across the country.

“The holidays would normally be a time to go see people in other places. But this year we have to think differently,” de Blasio said during a news conference on Tuesday. “This year, when we, ironically and painfully, we want to see family the most… we do see the level of infection rising all over the country, all over the world.”

“I hate to say it, but I have to urge all New Yorkers, do not travel out of state for the holidays. Do not travel to a state with a high infection rate, do not travel to a country with a high infection rate," he added. "Realize that by doing that, unfortunately, you could be putting yourself and your family in danger and also the risk of bringing the disease back here.” 

On Tuesday, New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo added California to the state’s travel advisory list, which tracks states with high COVID-19 case numbers and requires visitors coming from there to quarantine upon return. The list currently includes 41 states and territories. While New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania are not on the list, non-essential travel to those states is “strongly discouraged.”

De Blasio, who repeated his warning in a tweet, said the city is facing a “real threat” of a second wave of the virus and while mask wearing and social distancing has become the norm in the Big Apple, that isn’t necessarily the case elsewhere. As of Tuesday, the city reported a positive test rate of 1.66% on a seven day rolling average, according to the mayor.

But while people coming from high-risk states or countries will have to quarantine upon return, the mayor does not have the power to stop people from traveling in the first place. Rather, de Blasio promised “a lot more enforcement.”

“Everyone's going to make their own decision,” he said. “If you travel, the overwhelming likelihood is you need to quarantine for two weeks upon return. And we've got to take that seriously. Now, that's what I'm urging all New Yorkers to consider.”

To ensure the safety of those who do decide to hit the road or the skies, de Blasio called on the federal government to mandate pre-flight COVID-19 testing in order to board an airplane. He also called for the expansion of testing at city airports for people landing there.

While some of New York City’s most popular holiday attractions have been altered or gone online (like Macy’s annual Santaland experience and the New Year’s Eve Times Square ball drop), others are alive and well. The city’s Winter Village in Bryant Park, for example, will reopen for shopping, dining on seasonal treats and — yes — ice skating. 

And just north of the city, New York will allow ski resorts to reopen on Nov. 6 with masks mandatory and capacity restrictions in place.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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