Travel to New York City during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

Editor’s Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated in its entirety on January 1.

(CNN) — 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

• As of January 1, staffing shortages are causing some New York City subway shutdowns. Three subway lines — the B,Z and W — servicing various portions of the boroughs have been suspended, according to the MTA website. Amtrak is also being forced to temporarily cancel some routes (see below for details).

• The New York City Ballet announced on Tuesday, December 28, that it will cancel all remaining performances of George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” through January 2 because of Covid-19 concerns, according to an announcement on the organization’s website.
• The Christmas Spectacular show starring the Radio City Rockettes has been canceled for the rest of the season because of “increasing challenges from the pandemic,” according to a statement posted Friday, December 17, on the show’s website. All tickets for the affected dates will be refunded at the point of purchase, the statement said.

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 domestic travel.

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?

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 US 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 1, almost 35,400 total confirmed and probable deaths and roughly 1.55 million total confirmed or probable cases were registered. There’s been a test positivity rate of about 16.7% in the past 28 days. That rate has shot up dramatically from two weeks ago when it was 4.1%.

With the Omicron variant escalating, long waits for Covid-19 testing have been reported.

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.

And starting 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, 2022, children 5 to 11 must also 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 January 15.
Some Broadway shows have been canceled (see above). For those still open, you must be vaccinated to attend a show, and masks are required except when eating and drinking.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art requires visitors 5 and older to show proof of at least one dose of an accepted vaccine. Capacity is being limited, and dining facilities are closed. “Starting December 27, visitors 12 and older must show proof that they have received two doses of an accepted two-dose series vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” the museum’s website says.

The subway system continues to operate on a 24-hour basis, but with the shutdowns mentioned above.

As of December 30, Amtrak said it had temporarily adjust service, including these in the Northeast corridor:

• Northeast Regional trains 66 and 65/67 are canceled Friday, December 31, through Thursday, January 6, Boston — Newport News

• Northeast Regional train 157 is canceled Sunday, January 2, Springfield — Washington

For long distance routes, the Crescent is canceled both directions for trains departing New Orleans and New York on Saturday, January 1, and Tuesday, January 4.

• 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

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Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley, Kristina Sgueglia, Marnie Hunter and Forrest Brown have contributed to this report.

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