COVID NY Update: Mandatory domestic travel quarantine ends Thursday, but is it safe to fly?

NEW YORK (WABC) — The number of air travelers has been increasing by the week, and now, there’s some good news for those coming into the Tri-state area — at least for those who were actually following the rules.

New York’s once-mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone traveling into the region from other states was lifted Thursday, but many are wondering if air travel is safe?

While no longer required, the state Department of Health still recommends quarantine after domestic travel as an added precaution.

But for many newly-vaccinated New Yorkers, travel is at the top of the list.

“I’m ready to get back out there and just see the world and just go and explore,” one JFK Airport passenger said.

RELATED | NYC could be ‘completely out of this within 6 to 8 weeks’: Health official

By all accounts, the vaccines prevent serious illness from COVID-19, and research also shows that the vast majority of people will be entirely immune to the virus.

Yet the CDC continues to advise even fully-vaccinated Americans to avoid all unnecessary travel.

“It’s an abundance of caution, I believe, that’s driving this extra level of certainty that we’re looking for,” said Dr. Robert Ahmler, Dean of New York Medical College School of Health Sciences

Dr. Ahmler spent nearly three decades at the CDC, and he’s confident that fully-vaccinated people are essentially protected from infection. But he believes the CDC is right to be cautious.

“I think it’s an abundance of caution, but I would not call it overkill,” he said.

It’s an opinion that might not sit well with many vaccinated Americans.

Dr. Scott Braithwaite is an epidemiologist with NYU Langone Health, and he says fully vaccinated individuals who no longer fear the virus have some justification.

“It’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely that they’re going to pick it up and get sick,” he said. “So in that sense, they’re not wrong.”

He says the latest research also indicates that vaccinated people likely can’t spread COVID-19.

“People probably are not carriers once they’re vaccinated,” he said. “There was concern about that, but that concern is abated.”

RELATED | NYC opens NYCHA pop-up vaccine centers, urges against holiday gatherings

But many say they’re not ready to travel anytime soon.

“I know people that are ready, really ready,” said New Yorker Bill Humphrey, who has been vaccinated but says he’s not ready. “Yeah, absolutely not. No, not yet, not yet. But soon. Sooner rather than later, no doubt.”

Despite the latest research, the CDC travel guidelines have not changed in nearly a month. And more Americans are traveling every week.

Mandatory quarantine remains in effect for international travelers, and all travelers must continue to fill out the Traveler Health Form.

Individuals should continue strict adherence to all safety guidelines to stop the spread — wearing masks, socially distancing, and avoiding gatherings.

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