Travel to New York City during the Pandemic: 5 Things You Need to Know

traveling during to the pandemic

Travel is expected to make a comeback this 2022. Some have ventured to fly last year, but it was still a jumble of tests, documents, quarantine, and uncertainty. As the regulations become clearer, many are eager to dust off their passports and explore new places once again.

New York City is one such destination you should add to your itinerary. As one of the world’s most populous megacities, New York has something for everyone. It is widely regarded as the world’s financial, cultural, and media center, and it stands as a symbol of cultural diversity and freedom.

The city’s famed skyline is composed of a variety of historical landmarks that merge flawlessly with modern construction. It has excellent art galleries, museums, theaters, restaurants, and parks, as well as extraordinary cultural events and festivals to satisfy every wanderlust’s checklist.

While New York City is open for business and vaccines have been a godsend to daily life, Covid-19 remains a reality for everyone. Here’s what you should know and expect if you want to visit New York City during the pandemic.

1. Vaccination Guidelines

Although the state of New York has repealed a mask-or-vaccine mandate, New York City’s “Key to NYC” vaccination requirement remains in effect. All New Yorkers, employees, and visitors ages 12 and older must show proof of complete vaccination in all indoor settings, including dining spaces, fitness facilities, and entertainment venues.

This covers restaurants, bars, gyms, performing arts and movie theaters, concert halls, party venues, museums, botanical gardens, aquariums, zoos, casinos, sports arenas, and other indoor recreational areas.

Children ages 5 to 11 must show proof of at least one dose of a vaccine. Those under the age of five who have not yet received the vaccine must wear a mask at all times and be accompanied by a parent or guardian. 

Penalties for noncompliance start at $1,000 and can reach $5,000 for repeated infractions.

2. Mask Guidelines

Governor Kathy Hochul declared that, as of February 10, 2022, wearing masks in indoor public venues will no longer be required by the state. Individual cities and businesses, on the other hand, have the discretion to continue requiring residents, employees, and visitors to wear masks.

The mask requirement continues to apply to schools, Broadway theaters, public transit, and public transportation terminals such as airports and bus, subway, and train stations.

3. Requirements and Restrictions for International Visitors

Foreign national air travelers ages 18 and up must be completely vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination status to fly to the United States. Essential and non-essential travelers entering the United States through land borders or ports must also show proof of full vaccination.

All inbound international travelers ages 2 and older, regardless of nationality or vaccination status, must get a viral test, such as a rapid antigen test or a PCR test, and produce proof of a negative Covid-19 test result within 24 hours before the flight.

This does not affect domestic travel within the United States. These requirements are simply part of tightening US travel restrictions in response to the Omicron strain of the coronavirus.

4. Essentials to Pack

Despite a significant decline in tourists since the pandemic began, New York City’s tourism agency predicts an increase in visitors in 2022.

Millions of tourists visit New York each year because of the immersive sensory and cultural experience it offers. However, this also means dealing with crowds and long queues, getting stuck in traffic, and being exposed to new sights, sounds, and scents.

So, in addition to your travel documents, proof of vaccination, face masks, and hand sanitizer, remember to pack:

  • Fabulous outfits appropriate for the season. Compared to the rest of the country, New York is relatively formal, so don’t bring overly casual clothes. Instead, bring a wardrobe that expresses yourself and perfect pieces you can mix and match to save space in your suitcase.
  • Toiletries. Aside from your basic personal care items, pack an emergency period kit with a menstrual cup or a few pairs of period underwear to stay clean, comfortable, and confident wherever you go.
  • Comfortable footwear. Expect to walk a lot more than you do at home, so bring a pair of flats, boots, or sneakers that look great but are also comfortable enough to wear for miles. 
  • A portable charger and battery bank. You will most likely take and share a lot of photos and videos, as well as use your phone for Google Maps. Carry a power bank with you, so you don’t have to walk back to your hotel or pay for a cab just to charge your devices.

5. Broadway and Other Attractions

For all performances through April 2022, Broadway theaters in New York City will require documentation of full vaccination for all audience members ages 5 and above, as well as performers, backstage personnel, and staff. Masks are also mandatory for audiences inside theaters, with the exception of designated areas for eating and drinking.

Restaurants, cafes, movie theaters, museums, and other venues are open. However, under the “Key to NYC” policy, the indoor spaces are only open to vaccinated guests ages 5 and over. To be admitted to any indoor venue, you must present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination status.

Travel Safely and Have Fun

If you must travel during the pandemic, make travel arrangements in advance to ensure everyone’s safety. Despite still being in the grip of a pandemic, you can enjoy the vibrancy, creativity, and diversity of New York City by adhering to best practices for travel and commuting. Wear a mask, maintain social distance, and always carry hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes with you, and you’ll return home with amazing experiences, pictures, and memories.

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