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…
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.