October 22, 2020

What to Know About N.Y.’s Traveler Restrictions

Credit…Brendan McDermid/Reuters

New York, once an epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, is further tightening its restrictions on visitors from the current hot spots across the country. Starting today, travelers from 19 states must fill out a health form or face a stiff penalty.

The form is Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s latest effort to better trace travelers who may have the virus, and to fend off a possible second wave of infections in New York. (On Monday, he illustrated just how far the state has come by showing this quirky poster.)

Since late June, travelers from several states, including Texas and Florida, have been required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in New York. But it’s still unclear how officials can enforce the isolation period.

Here’s what else you need to know:

Travelers from the 19 states must provide their contact information and planned whereabouts to the authorities upon arrival at airports across New York State.

If passengers don’t complete the form, they can be given a summons and fined up to $2,000. They can also be brought to a hearing and ordered to complete the quarantine. In New York City, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will enforce the new rule, Mr. Cuomo said.

[New York confronts a second-wave risk: Visitors from Florida and Texas.]

But once travelers leave the airport, they can go wherever they want, whenever they want. Also, the many people who enter the state by other means of transport, like cars and trains, must fill out the form online. That means much of the compliance will be left to the whims of the travelers, my colleagues Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Nate Schweber wrote.

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Updated 2020-07-14T05:48:38.348Z

“I think it’s going to be incredibly hard to keep the virus out of New York State,” Isaac Weisfuse, a former New York City deputy health commissioner, told my colleagues. “I think that these type of travel restrictions may be somewhat helpful, but we should assume that they’re not going to be airtight.”

As of Monday, no punishments had been issued for failure to quarantine in New York City. Essential workers are exempt from the isolation period.

New York endured months of lockdown, while other states took less stringent measures to slow the spread of the virus. Almost 40 states are seeing spikes in infections.

Florida, for instance, recorded 15,300 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, eclipsing the previous one-day high of 12,274 set by in New York in April.

“New York’s problem is we have the infection coming from other states back to New York,” Mr. Cuomo said on Monday. He noted that a recent outbreak upstate originated with three residents who had traveled to Georgia and back.

Dani Sheinbaum, 33, who recently returned to New York from Dallas, told my colleagues that completing the quarantine was her duty. “I don’t want to fail my brethren,” she said.

Bloody noses, bruises, broken bones, concussions and even death — all were possible outcomes of a visit to Action Park.

The park’s reputation for grievous injuries led some of its guests, and employees, to call it Traction Park. Still, the water park, in New Jersey, was practically a rite of passage between 1978, when it opened, and 1996, when it closed. (It has since reopened, with different attractions, under a new name.)

“People were bleeding all over the place,” Susie McKeown told my colleague James Barron last fall as she recalled her visits to Action Park more than 30 years ago. She once broke a tooth on a ride. “People were walking around the park with scraped elbows or knees.”

A documentary about Action Park will stream next month on HBO Max. Until then, you can read more about it in a new book by Andy Mulvihill, the son of the park’s founder, and the writer Jake Rossen.

My colleague John Williams recently spoke with Mr. Mulvihill. Here are some highlights from the Q. and A., You can read the full interview here.

Q: When did you first get the idea to write this book?

A: I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. So many stories are retold between family and friends, and they’re so good it just seemed it would be a shame to keep them to ourselves. Many people have an Action Park story or two, but I have hundreds. There are many stories out there, and some are exaggerated or just plain untrue. I wanted to put the real story in writing, from someone who lived through it.

What’s the most surprising thing you learned while writing it?

I knew my father was a risk taker, but I never really understood the size of the risks, and the sheer tenacity and confidence he possessed to take them on. He was fearless.

I look back on the incredible number of crazy ride ideas and the inventors he’d back to develop those ideas, and it just blows you away.

Persuade someone to read “Action Park” in 50 words or less.

My father built a place where you could do whatever you wanted. There was a joy and freedom in that, even when people were getting enemas from the water slides or chased by snakes in a human maze. The book’s a way to visit Action Park without risking your health.

It’s Tuesday — hang on.

Dear Diary:

One day a few months ago, I was walking up Third Avenue to the mailbox nearest my home with a letter that I was in a hurry to send.

This mailbox is one of the newer ones that has a narrow slot for dropping letters, not the traditional door to be pulled down.

As I approached the mailbox, I noticed a tall, well-dressed man standing in front of it with his back to the sidewalk. He was blocking anyone else’s access to the mailbox, and he showed no sign of going anywhere.

“Excuse me,” I said.

He turned around with an annoyed expression. Spread across the narrow ledge in front of the mail slot was an open sandwich, a bag of chips and a tall drink. I realized I had interrupted his lunch.

Assuming he would move his things, I took a step back. Just then, a gust of wind whisked his napkin away. As he took a few steps to grab it, another woman came up with a letter in her hand.

She took in the scene, and we smiled at each other. Without hesitating, she carefully maneuvered her letter around and over his lunch and into the slot, and then walked away. I did the same.

I couldn’t help turning around when I was halfway down the block. Sure enough, the man was back at the mailbox, finishing his lunch courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service.

— Phyllis Carson

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