New York City checkpoint plan announced

New York City checkpoint plan announced

Travelers coming to New York City from 35 states and territories on the state's COVID-19 quarantine list may be met at bridges and train stations and told to fill out travel forms under a program announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The city plans to set up checkpoints at Penn Station and other entry points to the city to tell travelers from places with a high rate of coronavirus infections that they must quarantine for 14 days.

The travelers will be given a health form to complete so that contact tracers can follow up and make sure they are quarantining, said the mayor, a Democrat.

The checkpoints will be set up at different entry points each day starting with Penn Station on Thursday. New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito, who whose deputies will staff the stations, said there will be “a random element” and every sixth or eighth car on a bridge might be checked.

Travelers who refuse to fill out the travel form could be fined up to $2,000, de Blasio said.

“If you come here you must quarantine,” de Blasio said. “It is not optional. We do not want to fine you. We do not want to penalize you. In fact, we want to help you quarantine. But if you don’t respect our laws we will penalize you, because this is about respecting the health and safety of New Yorkers.”

Thirty-four states plus Puerto Rico are on New York state's quarantine list because of high rates of coronavirus infection. The random check system de Blasio described is similar to what is already in place at airports.

Some privacy advocates criticized the plan. “This is a ludicrous, invasive, and deeply dangerous plan,” Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, said in a statement. “Rather than addressing the city’s backlog in testing capacity and struggling contact tracing program, the mayor is transforming this pandemic into a policing issue.”

Coronavirus infections have eased since the pandemic's peak in the state in April, but new infections continue to occur daily. New York City has yet to go a day without a coronavirus death. Statewide, more than 630 new infections were reported as of Tuesday, approximately the level that has persisted since early June.

Story by the Associated Press