In a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is requesting that the state explore alternatives to its automatic two-week quarantine for residents returning from abroad (executive order No. 205.1). Should New Yorkers go on a “sorely needed” weeklong vacation out of the country, it effectively becomes a “three-week ordeal, and serves as a strong disincentive for New Yorkers to undertake any international travel—at the worst possible time” for travel advisors’ businesses.
ASTA notes that, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are almost 8,700 New Yorkers working at 1,825 travel retail locations, plus an estimated 3,500 self-employed travel advisors in the state. It adds that without further federal assistance, 73 percent of its members predict they will be out of business in six months or fewer. “Government action—here and abroad—has played a key role in this decimation of the travel agency business and, while public health is paramount for our members, governments must not ignore the catastrophic economic consequences of the steps they’ve taken in response to COVID-19,” ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby said in the letter.
Kerby offers several alternatives, including, among other options, exempting those who test negative from the quarantine requirement, as several other states have done, such as Connecticut, Hawaii and Massachusetts. The negative test could be required before arrival (as Hawaii and Massachusetts do) or either before or after arrival (Connecticut). “While shortages in the availability of rapid testing could present a challenge to this approach, it is far preferable to a mandatory, across-the-board and difficult to enforce two-week quarantine,” the letter reads.
A template email, which states much of what Kerby’s letter says, is available on ASTA’s Advocacy Portal.