ASTA is asking New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reconsider a recent executive order that requires a strictly enforced quarantine period on travelers coming from most countries.
Cuomo's order, issued in late September, requires a 14-day quarantine period for travelers entering New York from countries carrying a CDC 2 or 3 health notice.
The CDC rates countries based on their Covid-19 health risk level as either a Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 country. Level 1 encourages travelers to practice usual precautions; Level 2, practice enhanced precautions; and Level 3, avoid all nonessential travel to the destination. As Cuomo said in his executive order, on Aug. 21 the CDC rolled back its quarantine recommendation for international travelers arriving in the U.S. from a Level 2 or 3 country.
In a letter to the governor, ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby said the Society has "grave concerns" about the impact the measure could have on members' businesses. He urged Cuomo "to explore alternatives to an automatic two-week quarantine for virtually all New Yorkers returning to the state [from] abroad."
Kerby stressed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the travel trade and how at-risk many travel agencies are of closing. Government actions in the U.S. and abroad, including the CDC's No Sail Order and the European Union's ban on inbound American travelers have "played a key role in this decimation of the travel agency business," he said. "And while public health is paramount for our members, governments must not ignore the catastrophic economic consequences of the steps they've taken in response to Covid-19."
The executive order in New York will add to the stress agencies are already feeling, Kerby said, as it means a mandatory quarantine for anyone arriving in New York from most countries in the world. Only travelers from 31 countries are exempt.
"This transforms a hypothetical weeklong vacation into a three-week ordeal, and it serves as a strong dis-incentive for New Yorkers to undertake any international travel at the worst possible time for our members' businesses," he said.
ASTA suggested New York consider measures like exempting those with a negative test upon arrival from the quarantine requirement. The approach has challenges, such as the availability of rapid tests, Kerby conceded, but it would be preferable to the quarantine period.
ASTA is asking members to get in touch with Cuomo and New York lawmakers about the order via its grassroots portal.