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New York City travel during Covid-19: What you need to know

Editor’s Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on October 22.

(CNN) — If you’re planning to travel to New York City, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics


Nearly all pandemic travel restrictions were lifted in June in New York state (including New York City) as 70{3132c872e6c78dc13c400a594a399f7f701f7fca090fe22c84668d12b33a9deb} of New Yorkers 18 or older had received the first dose of their Covid-19 vaccination series.
However, a new “Key to NYC” vaccination requirement became effective on August 17 in response to the Delta variant surge. It requires proof of vaccination for patrons and employees of the city’s indoor dining, fitness and entertainment venues.

Some of the venues of interest to travelers that are part of the requirement include restaurants, nightclubs, concert halls, museums, performing arts theaters, movie theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, casinos, cabarets, fitness centers, pools and coffee shops with indoor dining.

The mayor has endorsed CDC guidance recommending masking indoors, regardless of vaccination status, but has not issued a mask mandate.

What’s on offer

This is the ultimate city break. New York has the greatest city skyline in the world; culture from the Guggenheim to MoMA; spectacular food from Chinese delicacies in Flushing to Italian delights in the Bronx; and the green sweep of Central Park to the busy Lower East Side.

Who can go

New York state (and therefore the city) is still subject to US government rules, meaning travel from Brazil, China, the European Schengen Area, India, Iran, Ireland, South Africa and the United Kingdom is currently not permitted.

Exemptions to current travel bans are available for US citizens, family members or permanent residents. Travel from all other countries is allowed.

However, the announcement of a new vaccination requirement for international travelers means fully vaccinated visitors from the countries above and the rest of the world will be permitted to enter the US in early November.

What are the restrictions?

New York officials still recommend quarantine for all travelers who are not fully vaccinated or have not recovered from Covid-19 during the previous three months. Testing three to five days after arriving in New York is also recommended for these travelers.

Every air traveler entering the United States needs a negative Covid-19 test result. Passengers are required to get a viral test within three days before their flight to the US departs and to provide documentation of their lab results or documentation of having recovered from Covid-19.

What’s the Covid situation?

As of October 22, roughly 34,500 total confirmed and probable deaths and just over 1.1 million total confirmed or probable cases were registered. There’s been a test positivity rate of about 2.31{3132c872e6c78dc13c400a594a399f7f701f7fca090fe22c84668d12b33a9deb} in the past 28 days, a rate that’s been dropping in the past month.

What can visitors expect?

Restaurants, movie theaters and other venues are open — but their indoor spaces are only open to fully vaccinated patrons. Patrons younger than 12, who are not yet eligible for vaccination, will be allowed inside with a face mask requirement except when they are eating and drinking.

The city is strongly recommending masking indoors, but has decided not to make it a mandate. The “Key to NYC” vaccine mandate has been in full effect since September 13.

The subway system continues to operate on a 24-hour basis.

The state of New York has launched the Excelsior Pass, which allows people who have received a negative test or a vaccination in New York state to provide proof of their status. The digital pass is not a requirement for venues or events that require testing or vaccinations to enter, so a traveler from another state could use their own vaccination card or lab test result to enter.

Useful links

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Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley, Kristina Sgueglia, Marnie Hunter and Forrest Brown have contributed to this report.