I have just returned from a rather unusual stay in New York City during the Covid-19 pandemic. New York City was the main focus of contamination for many weeks. The measures taken by the local authorities were rigorous, and the situation improved. The city is different but resilient.
I will explain here how my stay went and what my impressions are.
Preparation for the stay
In times of health crisis, I had to adapt the preparation to my stay. First of all, I waited for Cuomo to lift his 14-day quarantine obligation on Californians. He set up this measure jointly with the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut. Any individual traveling from a state considered at risk must remain confined for 14 days. The list is updated weekly, and California has been off the list for almost a month now.
On September 28, Cuomo also reminded that anyone coming from a country considered at risk (level 3) must undergo this quarantine. That does not mean that international travelers can arrive on American territory if they respect this rule. Only 31 countries are not concerned, and for the moment, no one has any idea when the borders will reopen.
Seeing that the trip was confirmed, I decided to do a Covid test. With my health insurance, I logged on to the website around 8 am and made an appointment at 12:40 pm the same day! The next day I had a negative result. So at least I know that I was “healthy”.
As usual, I also drafted an itinerary. It’s handy in regular times, but even more so at the moment with the closings and openings of tourist places. For example, the One World observatory was supposed to be open, and once I got there, I realized that it was closed.
Air travel and arrival at the airport
It is essential to know that not all companies apply the same rules to ensure their passengers’ safety. While some health rules are imposed, it is not mandatory to block a row or seat. Delta, United, and JetBlue do block the middle seat, but not American Airlines! I still took this company because it was the most suitable for me and offered the shortest travel.
Passengers must wear masks at all times during the flight, and there is no food service. They gave us a small bottle of water and cookies when we entered the plane. I took an extra precaution by putting on a visor. It is perhaps useless, but I was a little more reassured.
Upon arrival at the airport, all passengers must fill out a health form indicating if they have any symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19. You have to fill in your contact information on a sheet of paper or via the official website.
I opted for the second option. I had a green light to show to the agents when I got off the plane. Attention, it did not exempt me from following precautionary measures such as wearing a mask, regard social distancing, and washing my hands frequently. I received text messages and calls from official representatives throughout my stay to make sure that I respected these measures. They even asked me if I was observing the quarantine, but I didn’t have to.
How is New York?
I’m not going to lie; yes, New York City has changed. There are fewer people in the streets, and some businesses are closed.
It’s a bit like every other big city in the world. With travel restrictions and lockdowns measures, the city feels empty. On the other hand, many residents decided to return to their hometowns to work from home and save on the exorbitant NYC rents.
Public transportation also feels empty.
However, there are still many New Yorkers left. You should also know that attractions are starting to reopen. Museums, for example, have been allowed to open since the end of August.
Restaurants are also open, offering outdoor dining. Since September 30, indoor service is allowed up to 25% of the restaurant’s capacity. Some streets are closed to traffic, replaced by improvised terraces. With the beautiful autumn days, this attracts people. I must admit that I liked this European vibe.
We found hydroalcoholic gel dispensers everywhere.
And there are even machines dispensing masks and gel. You will often see the PPE or Personal Protective Equipment in common places.
Safety is a worrisome issue; however, I didn’t feel unsafe. We sometimes came back late to the hotel, and we also had a bird’s eye view of the City Hall. We didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. We may have been lucky, but I don’t find the city more dangerous or safer than before.
What about the attractions?
The most touristic sites start to reopen, following the authorities’ rules. There are also marks on the ground to space people such as at the Vessel,
As well as directions to avoid close contact, as at Chelsea Market.
But finally, I would say that it is the best time to visit certain attractions because nobody is around. At the moment, there are about 500 people a day to visit the Statue of Liberty. I say this for those who live in NY or the United States.
It took less than 10 minutes to go up to the Empire State Building around 6:00 pm.
There were more people at the Edge, but we went there in the middle of the afternoon.
For information, we purchased a pass to visit NYC, and it is not necessary to reserve for the attractions, even in times of pandemic. The only concern we had, is that some activities seemed to be available according to the websites, and in the end, they were closed.
How will our future trips to NYC be?
I don’t have a crystal ball. NYC took rigorous measures to halt the spread of Covid-19 at the beginning of the pandemic. Today the city starts to wake up little by little. The local outbreaks of the last few weeks are in residential areas that are not especially touristy.
The health crisis is exacerbating an economic and social situation, and not only in NY. Many of us experienced the September 11 attacks live, and the city has recovered. I do not doubt that this will be the case after this pandemic.
While some places have closed or are on hold, many construction works are going on. The city is getting ready for the future. Here’s an example with Little Island,
The opening of new stores such as the MLB Store in front of the Radio City Music Hall,
Or the new Krispy Kreme store in Times Square.
For some months now, we have been using a mask in our respective cities and are getting used to observing social distancing measures. So in NYC it will certainly be the same in the coming months. As long as we take precautions, it is not more “dangerous” to visit NY than to go shopping.
I do not regret this stay, which made me discover another NYC. I’ve been traveling to the city for the past 20 years, I’ve been up on the Twin Towers, I’ve seen Ground Zero, I’ve been to One World Observatory. The city is continuously renewing and reinventing itself. I am confident about the future.
For now, let’s take care of ourselves, and hopefully, we will be able to travel soon.
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