As New York City gears up for COVID's second wave, commuters from Jersey may face some new roadblocks before entering Manhattan. (Literally.)
On November 4, 2020, the NYC Sheriff’s Office advised drivers that officers will be stopping vehicles at the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels to screen for possible symptoms of the virus prior to being permitted entry to NYC. Drivers encountering these checkpoints can expect to be questioned about their destinations, recent travel itineraries, and health histories -- such as whether they have had the virus, or whether anyone they’ve been in contact with has had COVID-19 related symptoms.
Bound to slow down traffic even more than usual, opinions about these checkpoints vary. “In theory, it’s a good idea,” one driver said. “It’s crowded in New York, so it’s like, if people are coming from out-of-state, I think to control COVID.” However, others seem to better understand the nuances of what these actions will entail: “There’s gonna be people that don’t like it, for sure … I mean, people wanna go into the city and they don’t like to be asked questions ever.”
Travelers coming from other states are still subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine. While residents of Connecticut and New Jersey are exempt from that requirement (as enforcement would be impractical), neighboring states have expressed concerns about the recent spike in cases, as Jersey's rate of daily new infections has hit highs not seen since May.
The Port Authority of New Jersey is encouraging drivers entering through the Lincoln Tunnel to wear a face covering and to use exact change if they intend to pay cash at staffed toll booths. The Holland Tunnel remains cashless, as work to update the tunnel’s payment systems is still underway.
Governor Cuomo, on the other hand, has been touting that New York’s numbers are relatively low compared to the rest of the country -- likely due the Draconian regulations that, some claim, have all but rotted out the Big Apple.
While big pharma companies have been teasing the public with claims that a vaccine will be publicly available in a matter of weeks, until that actually occurs, all out-of-town drivers should buckle up when approaching NYC, as they're likely in for a bumpy ride.
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