Cuomo Takes No Steps to Enforce Travel Quarantine; Lawsuit Voluntarily Dismissed

NY Traveler Information Form
New York produced these forms for travelers to provide the details necessary to (try to) enforce the Governor’s travel quarantine.

At the end of last month, I had asked a federal court to issue a temporary restraining order against Cuomo’s enforcement of the 14-day travel quarantine currently in effect on those coming to New York from 19 different states, on the simple premise that you can’t protect an area that is already broadly infected (as the entire state of New York is) by use of a quarantine.  A judge refused to issue the order last week, ruling that while the quarantine burdened my right to travel, it was my job to overcome the government’s showing that they had “considered” other options and felt the quarantine was necessary.  In their opposition to my motion, New York presented not a single model, not a single health organization’s (or even a single doctor’s) opinion that a quarantine is necessary in this situation, and not even a prediction of how many cases this would likely prevent.  It seems to me that when the government wants to take our liberty, it should be their job to demonstrate the need to do so, but motions for temporary restraining orders are quite discretionary and unappealable.  That said, the case was free to continue without the temporary relief — although by the time it would be decided, the quarantine would very likely be over.

I’ve decided not to continue this court fight for that reason and because it seems clear to me that the Governor has no intent to actually enforce this quarantine.  To that point, first, last night I flew LAX to JFK, which means I was directly incoming from a state that Cuomo announced had coronavirus statistics that were so high that incoming travelers must self-quarantine for 14 days.  However, no attempt was made to compel the production of any data that would allow the enforcement of the quarantine: although the government had produced a poorly-designed form to collect information, no one was even trying to force travelers to fill it out…

Form Kiosk
However, no one was making any attempt to compel travelers to fill out the forms, and if you didn’t check a bag, you probably wouldn’t have even seen it.

There was merely a table by the baggage claim, with a Health Department employee sitting on his laptop paying no attention, offering the form up to travelers.  No person sought to inform travelers to fill out the form, and there were not even ropes to guide travelers past the kiosk.  While a handful of travelers stopped and fellated the Governor’s ego, the remainder either didn’t see it or, like me, saw it and walked right past.

Second, in the days after the quarantine was announced, the state made clear that “essential workers” are exempt from the quarantine.  That is, if you work for any essential business, you’re free to go on vacation to Miami, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Rome, or Wuhan, China, and then come back to work without the need to quarantine.  This means if you are a waitress, a bartender, a dog walker, a janitor, a gas station attendant, a mechanic, a bank teller, a federal government employee, a transportation employee, work in a medical field, or one of several dozen other jobs, you’re exempt.  By my calculation, this is more than half of the workforce that is exempt.  And if you’re not yet exempt, find someone in New York that will let you walk their dog and you will be.

I’ve not changed my mind that the Governor’s quarantine is wrong and unconstitutional.  But given that it seems to be mere bloviation from Cuomo with no teeth at all, it is not worth spending 40 – 100 hours over the next 18+ months fighting.  So today I file a notice of voluntary dismissal.  Such dismissals are “without prejudice,” meaning I can bring the case back later if I’d like, and I’ll keep an eye on the situation.  That said, if anyone is actually fined or detained because of the quarantine, I would be most eager to speak with them about their case.

4 thoughts on “Cuomo Takes No Steps to Enforce Travel Quarantine; Lawsuit Voluntarily Dismissed

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  1. I understand your reasoning for dropping this. I think it is wrong but as you say, they are not really doing it, just giving the media lip service. My State did something similar. The Governor signed that certain things were going to happen but then left it to the counties and cities on whether to actually do it or not. The reason was good. Cities or counties that had a lot of cases and those preventative measures would help, then they could enforce them. If it wouldn’t help, then they didn’t. It basically gave local officials options IF they needed them. Nursing homes and hospitals was the ones that implemented measures.

    A also agree that the burden is on the Govt not the individual. In this case, the Govt should have had to present proof that the measures would help. In my opinion tho, even if they did, it is still unconstitutional.

    Spend your time on what will make the most difference.

  2. Very interesting and thanks for sharing because I was given misinformation. I work for a hospital but since I’m not on the front lines I’ve worked from home since March and continue to do so. When I returned from my vacation I was informed by my Manager I had to share the travel advisory requirements with my staff since I’m a manager. I had to call employee health and was told I needed a test AND had to quarantine for 14 days. I’m considered an essential worker because I work in healthcare. Reading through the state’s guidelines the quarantine is not correct. My test was negative by the way. I also read that Cuomo had directed any employer who has an employee returning from vacation and tests positive and cannot work to not allow the use of their sick time. That made me jump right on the US Department of Justice web page and write to AG Barr about our constitutional rights being violated. I don’t work for NY State and he has no right to mess with my employee benefits. Luckily I haven’t had to use them but I feel bad for anyone who does.

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