NYC sheriff to set up quarantine checkpoints at crossings into city

New York City is going to set up checkpoints into the city to check out-of-state travelers to make sure they are following quarantine rules.

The New York City Sheriff's Office is in charge of the quarantine checkpoints at major bridges and tunnels into the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday morning.

"New York City is holding the line against COVID-19, and New Yorkers have shown tremendous discipline," the mayor said. "We’re not going to let our hard work slip away and will continue to do everything we can to keep New Yorkers safe and healthy."

>FOLLOW UPDATES: NYC sheriff begins registering travelers at COVID-19 checkpoints

"As sheriff, I understand the absolute serious nature of this pandemic. We need to ensure visitors and New York Yorkers returning home are taking the necessary precautions to limit the spread of this disease," Sheriff Joseph Fucito said. "Compliance with the quarantine is our objective and checkpoints are an effective means of ensuring travelers are on notice and can take precautions to protect our beloved city."

The Sheriff's Office is a division of the Department of Finance. The office is primarily tasked with enforcing mandates, orders, warrants, and decrees issued by city and state courts.

A fifth of all new coronavirus cases in the city is from out-of-state visitors, according to city officials.

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Authorities also planned to set up a checkpoint in Penn Station to check visitors who arrive by train.

Some privacy experts slammed the measures.

"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."

Cahn called the checkpoints "dragnets of out-of-state travelers" and said they are "just a distraction." 

"Even if every driver complied with New York's registration requirement, there's simply no way that New York could confirm if travelers comply," he said.

State rules require anyone who arrives from a list of affected states is required to quarantine for 14 days when arriving in the state. There are currently 35 states on the list.

Non-essential workers subject to the quarantine must:

·    Stay at their residence or in a hotel room, leaving only for essential medical appointments or treatment or to obtain food and other essential goods when the delivery of food or other essential goods to their residence or hotel is not feasible;
·    Not invite or allow guests, other than caregivers, into their quarantined residence or hotel room; and
·    Self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and seek appropriate medical advice or testing if COVID-19 symptoms arise.

Essential workers subject to the State’s quarantine must: 
·    Self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and self-quarantine and seek medical advice or testing if they show symptoms of COVID-19; and
·    Limit their activities involving contact with other persons for fourteen (14) days to the purposes that exempted them from the self-quarantine requirement to the extent possible.
·    If staying longer than 36 hours in New York state, seek diagnostic testing for COVID-19 as soon as possible upon arrival (within 24 hours).

Anyone caught breaking the quarantine could face a $10,000 fine. Individuals who refuse to fill out the New York State Department of Health travel form are subject to a $2,000 fine.

Sheriff Joseph Fucito. The New York City Sheriff's Office, part of the Department of Finance, enforces mandates, orders, warrants and decrees issued by city and state courts.