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

by | Dec 30, 2020

(Updated Mar, 17 2021) 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 if you can plan your trip to New York during Covid-19.

As of this moment, travel to New York is only feasible for certain Domestic travelers. While we’re hopeful that travel will return by Summer 2021, this guide only focuses on the current Cov-19 situation in New York City as it relates to travel.

What can I do plan to 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)…

There is a lot to see and do in New York.

Most major museums, skyscrapers, and attractions have opened to limited capacity. Get your tickets in advance and pay attention to restrictions. For example, you can visit the Statue of Liberty Island but the museum, pedestal and crown are closed to the public. But most major museums are completely open!

You can go on a walking tour!  Explore diverse neighborhoods, take in our amazing architecture, and eat and drink at the many sidewalk cafes that have sprung up across the city. Restaurants and bars are now also open but limited to 35 percent capacity and mostly close at 11pm. You can still go shopping with a mask on.  If you want to try to stay outdoors, you can also stroll down the waterfront, ride a ferry and bike across the Brooklyn bridge.  Our parks are open but to visit the Highline Park you have to reserve in advance. And you can see 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 mostly close at 11pm. 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 4 of reopening. This allows for outdoor eating and drinking, limited indoor eating,  in-store retail, playgrounds, barbershops, beauty salons, basketball and tennis courts, nail salons, and tattoo parlors, fitness centers, entertainment, tourism and recreational businesses have reopened. Yes,  you can go on a Streetwise New York walking tour!

It should be noted that for the  first half of 2021, there will be no live theater, and concerts, music venues or in-person sporting events are limited.

Photo of a completely empty 6th Avenue

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

Can I travel to New York during Covid-19?

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… But before you decide to plan your trip to New York during Covid-19, consider what the travel requirements may be…

Will I have to quarantine in New York?

There is no quarantine requirement for domestic travelers starting on April 1st, 2021.

New York State mandates a 14-day quarantine for International travelers who are coming from or spend more than 24 hours outside of New York.  

You can “test” out of this requirement. If you have a negative Covid-19 test within three days before your arrival, quarantine for three days, and then receive a negative Covid-19 test on day four or after.

Will I have issues to 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. While some countries require a negative Covid-19 test to enter. 

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, if you can plan your trip to New York during Covid-19 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 freely.

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