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

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a man on a bench in front of a building: NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 29: A man looks out at the Manhattan skyline in a Brooklyn neighborhood on September 29, 2020 in New York City. New York City faces a severe financial crisis as unemployment has risen to 16% and thousands of wealthy residents who make up a vital tax base have fled the city. New York City lost 24,000 residents to Coved-19, more than any other city in America and one of the highest metropolitan losses in the world. Vital sectors like tourism, retail and cultural activities are still struggling as the city attempts to get past the epidemic. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) © Spencer Platt/Getty Images NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 29: A man looks out at the Manhattan skyline in a Brooklyn neighborhood on September 29, 2020 in New York City. New York City faces a severe financial crisis as unemployment has risen to 16% and thousands of wealthy residents who make up a vital tax base have fled the city. New York City lost 24,000 residents to Coved-19, more than any other city in America and one of the highest metropolitan losses in the world. Vital sectors like tourism, retail and cultural activities are still struggling as the city attempts to get past the epidemic. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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 latest news

Staffing shortages have caused some New York City subway shutdowns. One remaining subway line -- the W -- was still suspended as of January 21, according to the MTA website. Check here for alternatives.

The basics

Since December 6, all inbound international travelers 2 and older are required to test within one day of departure for the United States, regardless of vaccination status. This does not affect US domestic travel.

It's part of a general tightening of US travel rules because of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

A "Key to NYC" vaccination requirement became effective in August. 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 and movie theaters, cabarets, fitness centers, pools and coffee shops with indoor dining.

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

Fully vaccinated travelers are now allowed entry into the United States, including New York City. The recent travel ban on eight nations in southern Africa has been lifted.

Unvaccinated travelers from abroad are no longer allowed to enter the United States, with very limited exceptions. Among those exceptions are unvaccinated children younger than 18.

New York doesn't have any restrictions on domestic travelers.

What are the restrictions?

Asymptomatic travelers entering New York from another US state or territory are not required to test or quarantine.


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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 one day before their flight to the United States departs and to provide documentation of their lab results or documentation of having recovered from Covid-19.

What's the Covid situation?

As of January 21, about 37,400 total confirmed and probable deaths and roughly 2.17 million total confirmed or probable cases were registered. There's been a test positivity rate of about 32.75% in the past 28 days. That rate has shot up dramatically from five weeks ago when it was 4.1%.

What can visitors expect?

The "Key to NYC" mandate has been in effect since September 13 and is being further tightened.

Restaurants, movie theaters and other venues are open. But since December 15, their indoor spaces are open only to vaccinated patrons 5 and older who have had at least one dose of vaccine.

Since December 27, the website says "people 12 and older participating in public indoor activities will be required to show proof they have received two vaccine doses, except for those who have received the one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine."

Starting January 29, children 5 to 11 will also have to show proof of full vaccination.

By orders of Gov. Kathy Hochul, masks are now required to be worn in all indoor public places in all of New York state unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement through at least February 1, when that will be reassessed.

On Broadway, guests 12 and older must be fully vaccinated to attend a show. Starting January 29, guests 5 and older must be fully vaccinated. Masks are required except when eating and drinking through at least April 30.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is open, but capacity is being limited and dining facilities are closed.

Among the many locations you can get rapid Covid-19 testing are these spots frequented by tourists:

LaGuardia Airport, in the Terminal B parking lot

John F. Kennedy International Airport, in the departures level of Terminal 1, Row H Area; Terminal 4, arrivals level, first floor; and at the Terminal 5 AirTrain stop

• Staten Island Ferry, St. George Terminal on Staten Island (next to the North Shore Esplanade exit)

• Times Square (701 Seventh Avenue between West 47th and West 48th streets)

Useful links

New York State Covid-19 microsite

Nycgo.com

CDC Travel Health

Our recent coverage

There are two new attractions added to the NYC roster. Read about Little Island, which sits in the Hudson River, and a spectacular observatory at One Vanderbilt tower.

Check out our New Yorker's guide to eating out safely during the pandemic, or read about the bar Dante, which was named the second best in the world this year.

Consider a post-pandemic stay at the first hotel on Roosevelt Island, a sliver of an island in the East River with a notorious past.

Want to eat great Indian food? You'll find it across the water in New Jersey. Or salivate over New York cheesecake in our list of the world's best desserts.

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