Governor Ned Lamont announced Wednesday morning that Connecticut, New York and New Jersey will implement a 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers from states with higher rates of Covid-19 effective 12:01am on Thursday.
Lamont, along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy agreed to act as a trio announcing the “urgent guidance” to slow the spread of Covid-19.
The travelers who will be asked to self quarantine are those from states with a positivity above 10%, including Connecticut residents returning from those states.
The governor mentioned Florida, Texas and Arizona specifically, but said there were “six, seven or eight states with high positivity rates.”
“They’ve gone from 2% or 3 % to over 20%,” Lamont said. “Even in their region it could be much higher. If it was confined to a nursing home or correctional facility you’d say it could maybe be contained, but there’s significant community spread in a number of these states now.”
Acting Dept of Health Commissioner Deirdre Gifford said publicly available data will be analyzed, including the rate of of daily new positive cases per 100,000 and test positivity rates over 10%. “The measures may change over time,” she said.
Travelers entering Connecticut, New York or New Jersey must self quarantine unless they have tested negative within the previous 72 hours
Lamont said hotels, travel agents and Airbnb would be notified of the rules.
“Connecticut is not an island. We can’t put up a wall,” he said, adding that Massachusetts also has a quarantine program in place.
Reporters asked the Governor how the new policy would be enforced. He said the plan relied on individual accountability, and that there were no plans to request the National Guard’s assistance enforcing the rule.
“Right now it’s going to be voluntary,” he said. “If we find that’s not working and that people are abusing that, we’ll consider stricter measures for enforcement.”
“If you’re a Connecticut resident and come back from Miami beach you have to quarantine like anybody else,” he said. “Miami has a very high infection rate right now.”
He noted Bradley Airport has numerous flights to and from Florida.
“The plan is to make people know exactly what the rules and requirements are when the get off a plane,” he said.
Asked if it would it be acceptable for a traveler to present a negative Covid test result in lieu of the self-quarantine, Lamont said he was discussing that with the acting Dept of Health Commissioner Gifford.
“It makes sense. I’m trying to get that coordinated with my fellow governors as well,” he said. “We’re checking with other states. Maine says if you test negative and have a certificate you have freedom from quarantine for 72 hours.”
Asked how the state would get the word out about the new policy to people arriving by bus, planes and trains, he said all channels would be used. He said the state would work with the travel and hotel industry, and spread the word via social media, billboards, DOT signs and signage at entry points to the state.
“We want do everything we can to maintain the progress we’ve been making,” he said. “Nothing would be worse for our confidence, our economy and our health than a relapse.”
“Sadly we see relapses happening all over the country, some cases more severe than what we had ever anticipated in terms of community spread,” he added.
As for the impact on the State’s tourism industry, Lamont said, “We’re advertising tourism within our region. Connecticut and neighboring states have low positivity rates of less than 3%.”
Lamont said specifics on the travel advisory would be announced withing the next day or so.
During a weekly press teleconference on Wednesday at noon, Dr. Tom Balcezak, chief medical officer of the Yale New Haven Health system, said he supported on the quarantine policy.
“I don’t say that lightly. Just like the masking and social isolation, quarantining is a big deal and is hard to do,” Balcezak said. “It’s tough on people. One of the ways we need to support each other is by not spreading the disease.”
“Quarantining (people) coming from a hot spot is one of the ways you can prevent that disease from spreading,” Balcezak said.
He said it was absolutely not inevitable that surges in cases in other states would cause a spike in Connecticut.
“There is no inevitability at all with this,” Balcezak said. “The power to control that is within all of our hands. This is a communicable disease that the majority of time is spread between individuals via droplets within 6 ft of one another. The ability to prevent the spread of this virus is within each of our hands.”