Travel advisories are inconsistent among northeast states

BOSTON — You can't miss the MassDOT highway signs as your drive into Massachusetts. They urge out-of-state visitors to quarantine for 14 days because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Wendy Parmet, the faculty director for the Center for Health Policy and Law at Northeastern University, said it's really more symbolic than anything since the state's travel advisory doesn't include fines.

“These travel restrictions cannot solve the problem,” she said. “They can’t protect. They are very hard to enforce.”

What about vacationers coming from out of state, such as Florida, which is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases?

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Parmet said there's really not much we can do in Massachusetts other than urging them to quarantine. She also said there's no consistency among states as the northeast has a patchwork of travel restrictions.

In Maine, out-of-staters need to quarantine for 14 days, unless they have had a COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to arriving.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut just recently issued a travel advisory that requires people arriving from states with high coronavirus rates to quarantine for 14 days. In New York, those violating the quarantine could be fined up to $10,000, but the governor admitted it will operate on an honor system.

“The only reason I actually don’t think the Massachusetts advisory, at the end of the day, is all that different from the New York ban is because New York really can’t enforce it. Or in order to enforce it would have to do such draconian kind of surveillance that people would really rise up,” Parmet said.

When asked about out-of-state travelers arriving in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker said constitutional restrictions prevent the state from enforcing the travel advisory.

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