NY quarantine order survives court challenge

Travelers from 31 states and two territories were subject to the quarantine requirements as of Tuesday

Jon Campbell New York State Team

ALBANY — A federal judge upheld New York's order requiring many out-of-state travelers to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival to the Empire State, dismissing a lawsuit that sought to have the requirement tossed.

U.S. District Judge David Hurd of Utica issued his decision late Tuesday, upholding the quarantine order in part because it applies equally to both New York residents and non-U.S. residents.

Travelers coming from states with with more than 10 daily coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents (or a positive test rate of 10%) over a seven-day average are subject to the 14-day quarantine requirement, which was issued jointly by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in late June as a way to stem the spread of the virus.

The requirement applies even in cases where a New York resident travels to a high-COVID state and returns home, meaning it doesn't violate an out-of-state traveler's constitutional right to equal protection under the law, Hurd wrote in his decision.

"In other words, the State is not drawing a distinction between residents and non-residents but between individuals with and without a mathematically heightened risk of spreading COVID–19," Hurd wrote in his decision.

The American Freedom Law Center, a Brooklyn-based group that has challenged a number of COVID-19 restrictions, filed the lawsuit last month on behalf of Cynthia Page, an Arizona woman who cancelled her plans to travel to Brooklyn after her home state landed on the quarantine list.

The suit argued that Page had been harmed by the travel order because she was no longer able to come to New York to help a friend pack up a house.

Hurd, however, wasn't persuaded that Page had standing to file the suit, in part because New York's travel order doesn't ban people from entering the state but rather requires them to quarantine upon arrival.

The American Freedom Law Center filed an immediate appeal of Hurd's ruling, which relied largely on an early 20th century Supreme Court ruling that upheld states' right to impose mandatory vaccinations in the interest of public health.

"We are filing an immediate appeal and motion for an injunction pending appeal," the group wrote on its website.

As of Tuesday, travelers from 31 states and two territories were subject to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut's quarantine order.

Among those are some of the most-populous states in the country, including Florida, California and Texas.

New York updates the list of quarantine states each Tuesday based on the prior week's coronavirus data.