Can I plan my trip to New York during Covid-19?

by | Jun 30, 2020

We’re not doctors, we’re not epidemiologists, we’re New York experts. So we’ll keep you updated as to how things are in New York and give you the needed resources so that you can make an informed decision.

As of this moment, travel to New York is only feasible for certain Domestic travelers.

 Last Updated July 12th.

What can I do in New York during Covid-19?

If you can legally travel to New York and it is feasible for you to do so ( and that is a big If, see below), here is what you can do in the city:

Although many things are closed, there is a lot to see and do in New York. You can explore diverse neighborhoods, take in our amazing architecture and eat and drink at the many sidewalk cafes that have sprung up across the city. While the Highline Park is closed, you can still visit other iconic parks like Central Park and Washington Square Park. You can still go shopping with a mask on, stroll down the waterfront, and bike across the Brooklyn bridge. While you can’t go to an art museum or an art gallery, the city has world-class public art and street art.

It isn’t the city that never sleeps. The subway for the first time in its history closes at 1 am. Shops and restaurants close earlier. Office and tourism areas are much emptier, meaning many businesses aren’t opening at all. But that has an advantage. The areas that are normally the busiest like Times Square, Wall Street, Fifth Avenue, ironically, have become the easiest to social-distance in.   

New York State’s website outlines detailed information about the reopening. New York has different phases with different levels of social distancing. In all stages all people must wear masks when they cannot socially distance (6 feet/2 meters apart).

Currently New York City is in Phase 3 of reopening. This allows for outdoor eating and drinking, in-store retail, playgrounds, barbershops, beauty salons, basketball and tennis courts, nail salons, and tattoo parlors.  If things continue to progress we will enter Phase 4 in the last week of July. 

In Phase 4, entertainment, tourism and recreational businesses can reopen. That is when you can go on a Streetwise New York walking tour!

It should be noted that for the year 2020, there will be no live theater, concerts, music venues or sporting events. Indoor dining is unlikely at least for the summer. Metropolitan Museum of Art plans to reopen on August 29th. The Museum of the City of New York on July 23rd. The New York Historical Society on August 14th.  Most other museums have not announced reopenings.  Skyscrapers are starting will reopen with timed tickets, The Empire State Building on July 20th, The Edge and Top of the Rock on August 1st. The Statue of Liberty has not announced any reopening plans. 

Photo of a completely empty 6th Avenue

The normally busy 6th Avenue empty during Covid-19 lockdown.

Can I travel to New York during the time of Covid?

No or Yes but with limits. And like anything with Covid-19, the answer will probably change.

It depends on where you’re traveling from if you are higher-risk, and what you want to do in New York.

Are there flights to New York?

Domestic Travel:

If you are coming from within the United States.  Yes. There are regular domestic flights.

International Travel:

From outside of the United States, if your country allows international commercial flights then the answer is most likely, “Yes.”

New York is a major hub. Even after the United States banned European Visitors, there have been numerous flights per week from the New York area to European Cities. The flights continue to serve for the repatriation of Citizens, Permanent Residents, certain non-tourist Visa holders and their family members. In addition to diplomats, certain essential workers, and travelers in transit.

But even if you can buy a plane ticket it might not mean that you will be allowed in.

Photo of a View from plane flying over East River

View from plane flying over East River

Who is allowed in?

Domestic Travel:

No restrictions from within the United States.

International Travel:

According to the CDC website, foreigners who have been in the following countries within the last 14 days are not allowed

  • China
  • Iran
  • European Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City)
  • United Kingdom
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Brazil

(Exceptions are for US Citizens, Permanent Residents, certain non-tourist Visa holders and their family members. In addition to diplomats, certain essential workers and travelers in transit.)

There are also land entry restrictions from Mexico and Canada.

If you are not coming from any of the countries listed above, you can enter the United States with a valid tourist visa,

Will I have to Quarantine in New York?

Domestic Travel: 

New York State mandates a 14-day quarantine for travelers who are coming from or spend more than 24 hours in a “Restricted State.” Restricted States are defined as states with “a seven day rolling average, of positive tests in excess of 10%, or number of positive cases exceeding 10 per 100,000 residents.”

Currently the following 19 states are listed as “Restricted States”:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi 
  • North Carolina
  • Nevada
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah

International Travel:

As of now, all travelers entering the United States must quarantine for two weeks. There has been discussion that these restrictions may be relaxed.

Will I have to quarantine when I return home?

In addition to restrictions on travelers coming to New York. It is possible that you will face restrictions on your return home. States like Hawaii and Massachusetts currently require 14-day quarantines for all individuals coming from out of state.

Are hotels open?

While not all hotels are open in New York, many have remained open or are planning to reopen.

Can I plan a trip to New York at a later date?

In the end that is a personal decision and as outlined here it depends on where you’re from and what you want to do in New York. It also can depend on if you or your family members are part of vulnerable populations.

No one can know for sure how things will progress. We’re keeping our masks on and our fingers crossed and hoping that things progress not just in New York but the rest of the world which will allow all of us to travel again.

If you’re optimistic, you can take advantage of great deals to book a trip for later this year or in 2021. I would investigate what cancelation and rescheduling options your reservations allow for.