Travelers looking to escape to the sunny beaches of Florida and Hawaii or the mountains of Alaska during the coronavirus outbreak may want to reconsider as the states mandate visitor quarantines to keep the virus from spreading in their communities.
Governors in both Alaska and Hawaii have issued orders mandating a 14-day quarantine for all visitors and residents arriving at state airports.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also issued an executive order requiring anyone flying to Florida from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. That mandate took effect Tuesday.
Alaska, Florida and Hawaii are the first states to place restrictions on domestic travelers.
President Donald Trump has not ordered any domestic travel restrictions but did recommend that Americans avoid “discretionary travel’’ during the 15 days that the country is asked to follow guidelines aimed at containing the coronavirus.
Trump, who rolled out the guidelines March 16, has signaled that they won’t last much beyond March 31.
“America will again and soon be open for business. Very soon,” Trump said at the White House press briefing Monday.
How will the quarantines work in each state?
In Alaska, travelers arriving at state airports will be required to fill out a mandatory State of Alaska Travel Declaration Form and identify their “designated quarantine location,” which would be home for residents and a hotel room or rented lodging for visitors.
The state’s order requires travelers to go straight to their quarantine location from the airport and remain there for 14 days, or for the duration of their stay if it’s shorter.
People in self-isolation can leave only for medical emergencies or to seek medical care, and they are not allowed to have visitors other than a health care provider.
Alaska’s order makes exceptions only for traveling workers who support critical infrastructure.
Companies who employ these workers were required to submit a plan to the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development outlining how they will prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Florida’s executive order requires people arriving on flights from the New York Tri-State area – New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – to quarantine for 14 days or for the length of their visit if that time is shorter.
The mandate makes exceptions for airline employees, military, health and emergency personnel. Those who self-quarantine are responsible for the costs of isolation including transportation, food, lodging and medical care, according to the state.
Hawaii’s emergency proclamation mandates all visitors and residents arriving at airports in the state to self-quarantine for 14 days.
According to the state, travelers will be required to complete a Hawaii Department of Agriculture form on their flight and present it to checkpoint staff after landing.
The travelers must then go straight to the “designated quarantine location” that they identify on the form and remain there for 14 days or the length of their stay if it is shorter.
Those in self-isolation can leave the location only for medical emergencies or to seek medical care. They also can’t have visitors unless it’s a health care provider.
“These actions are extreme, but they will help flatten the curve and lay the groundwork for a quicker recovery,” Gov. David Ige said in a statement. “We need everyone to comply with these quarantine orders to help protect Hawaiʻi’s residents.”
Why is Florida specifically targeting the New York Tri-State area?
Gov. DeSantis said in a news briefing Monday that Florida is seeing a flood of people flying there from the New York Tri-State area.
Southeast Florida – mainly Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach – is home to a lot of New York area transplants who often refer to it as the “sixth borough.”
New York remains the epicenter of the United States’ coronavirus outbreak with more than 25,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the most of any state.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a stay-at-home order for all residents last week and required 100% of the nonessential workforce to work from home.
“Today there’s over 190 direct flights from the New York City area to the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “And I would reckon given the outbreak there that every single flight has somebody on it who is positive for COVID-19.”
Florida currently has about 1,400 cases. DeSantis said the self-isolation of travelers from the New York area is critical to containing the virus in Florida.
Will people who violate the 14-day quarantines be punished?
Yes, each state has outlined how it will hold violators accountable.
Violators in Alaska will face a maximum $25,000 fine or up to one year in jail, according to the state.
Anyone who violates the quarantine order in Florida is subject to a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a 60-day jail sentence and up to a $500 fine, the executive order says.
In Hawaii, violating the order is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail, according to the state.