N.J. can ‘go after’ travelers who violate coronavirus quarantine, Murphy says

Posted Jul 15, 2020

New Jersey, unlike New York, isn’t threatening fines if travelers from states considered coronavirus hotspots don’t comply with a tri-state advisory to quarantine for 14 days.

So what’s to stop some “knucklehead” trekking to New York from flying into Newark Liberty International Airport to avoid getting whacked with a $2,000 penalty?

Gov. Phil Murphy was asked that question Tuesday afternoon during a radio interview. The governor insisted New Jersey’s health commissioner, Judith Persichilli, has the power to impose some sort of punishment — though he didn’t specify what.

“Something will happen to you,” Murphy said during the appearance on 1010 WINS in New York City. “If you’re a real knucklehead and you come in and you flagrantly violate this, the commissioner of health in New Jersey has the teeth to go after you. And she won’t hesitate to do that.”

“We’re just asking folks to do the right thing here,” he added.

In an effort to prevent outbreaks, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut have issued a joint advisory calling for people traveling from states that qualify as COVID-19 hotspots to self-quarantine for two weeks and seek a coronavirus test. The list now includes 22 states as new cases surge across the country.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday his state is requiring inbound travelers to New York to fill out a form with contact information - as well as details about where they came from and where they are going - when they arrive at the state’s airports to help make sure they follow quarantine orders. And if the don’t provide that info, they are subject to a $2,000 fine.

Murphy has multiple times this week said New Jersey won’t do the same, and instead the Garden State is “begging people for personal responsibility.”

The governor has said states aren’t allowed under the Constitution to stop people at their borders.

“But we want folks to know we mean business,” Murphy said Thursday during his latest coronavirus briefing in Trenton.

Once a coronavirus hotspot, New Jersey has seen its daily figures drop dramatically since peaking in April and plateau in recent weeks.

This comes as numerous other states — especially ones that have lifted restrictions more quickly — continue to see surging cases.

Murphy has paused Stage 2 of the state’s gradual reopening from months of coronavirus restrictions. And the state is now requiring people to wear masks outdoors in public when they can’t practice social distancing.

New Jersey on Wednesday reported 25 more confirmed deaths attributed to COVID-19 and 396 more positive tests.

The state has now reported 15,634 deaths related to COVID-19, including 13,660 lab-confirmed and 1,974 probable, and 176,278 known cases since the state announced its first positive test March. 4

The state’s latest rate of transmission is 0.93. As long that the number remains below 1, it means, on average, each newly infected person is spreading COVID-19 to fewer than one other person.

More than 1.3 million New Jersey residents have filed for unemployment benefits as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the economy.

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