BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Many agree that travel during COVID-19 has gotten complicated this summer as the 4th of July holiday weekend arrives and summer travel is in full swing.
“Travel has been on the rise for several, several years and came to a screeching halt in the spring, so now we’re seeing people saying I’m going to take a long weekend getaway and see how that feels,” Elizabeth Carey with AAA of Western and Central New York said.
Summer 2020 is the return of the family road trip, Carey said based on data from AAA.
However, compared to last summer, Carey said this summer is seeing a 15% drop in summer travel because of the pandemic.
“The key right now is to plan in advance and to have flexibility,” Carey said.
New York’s recent travel advisory only complicates things. Whether by car, train or plane, a growing number of COVID-19 “hot-spot” states require travelers to quarantine for 14 days when coming to New York.
“The risk of getting infected with the new coronavirus is predominately when you interact with other individuals,” Dr. Thomas Russo, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, said.
Dr. Russo suggests the safest way to travel is by car or RV. He also recommends centering the trip around outdoor activities.
Restrictions for travel during the pandemic are changing. That’s why 7 Eyewitness News asked on social media for you to send questions on the matter to be answered by experts.
Q: “If you have a layover in Georgia for one hour to fly back to Buffalo do you still have to quarantine for 14 days?”
A: The simple answer is no. Quarantine does not apply for those passing through states on the advisory, whether that be for gas or a layover. Both Dr. Russo and Carey added it is crucial to still practice good health measures like hand washing, wearing a mask and social distancing.
“Though the temptation may come to eat or drink when you’re on the plane or the bus or the train, that’s a scenario when you have to drop your mask. I would highly recommend not doing that,” Dr. Russo said.
Q: “Should I cancel vacation plans to one of the states on the list?”
A: Carey said: “So we’re getting a lot of people calling and asking that. And some of the answers would be again travel is a personal choice. Do you feel comfortable going to this area and what are your employer's guidelines for when you return?”
Q: “Are there any exceptions to the travel advisory?”
A: State guidelines detail exceptions based on the length of time spent in the states included in the travel advisory, as well as returning to New York for essential workers. Click here for more information.
Both the New York Department of Health and Erie County Department of Health are encouraging anyone to report travelers suspected of returning to the state and not following mandatory quarantine rules. To report it to the state, you can file online here or call 1-833-789-0470. The Erie County Department of Health, asks to report it online here.