Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is no longer singling out motorists from New York for restricted access to her state. Instead, she has broadened the restrictions to include all other states.
Raimondo announced on Friday that her state’s police would pull over drivers with New York license plates and force them to self-quarantine for 14 days. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo quickly denounced the policy and threatened to sue.
During his daily briefing on Sunday, Cuomo said he had spoken with Raimondo on Saturday and that she told him her executive order was being repealed.
“I don’t think the order was called for, I don’t believe it was legal, I don’t believe it was neighborly,” he said. “I understand the point, but I thought there were different ways to do it, and the governor of Rhode Island was every receptive.”
While Cuomo suggested the shift was a reprieve for New Yorkers, Raimondo indicated Sunday that New Yorkers will still need to stop or be stopped as they enter Rhode Island — now, they’ll simply have more company at those checkpoints.
“As the data has changed, the situation has changed. Unfortunately, the rate of infection we’re seeing in New York City — unfortunately, we’re seeing that same rate of infection in other places, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, etc.,” Raimondo said during a regular briefing at the State House in Providence. “So, yesterday, to keep all Rhode Islanders safe, I signed an executive order imposing a quarantine on all visitors from any state, by any mode of transportation who are coming in Rhode Island for non-work purposes and plan to stay.”
Raimondo confirmed she spoke with Cuomo on Saturday following her broadening of the quarantine order. However, she also expressed some irritation that he’d publicly lashed out at Rhode Island’s policy.
“I did talk to the governor of New York yesterday after I had already taken my action,” she said of the conversation with Cuomo. “We chatted about it. If he feels it’s important for him to take credit go ahead, I’m going to keep working here to keep Rhode Islanders safe,” she said. “I will say I think it’s odd that Gov. Cuomo is focused on this sort of politics at a time that we’re fighting disasters.”
Raimondo also dismissed Cuomo’s talk of a lawsuit against the earlier policy. “He’s welcome to sue if he likes. I think he would have a very hard time because I’m on firm legal ground.”
Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Col. James Manni said at the same briefing Sunday that his troopers and national guard members were establishing two checkpoints on I-95 and two on other highways entering the state.
Commercial vehicles will not be stopped, but signs will direct passenger vehicles from out-of-state to rest stops where members of the national guard will stop motorists, he said. Those who say they’re passing through will be sent on their way, while those intend to stay in Rhode Island will be told about the 14-day quarantine requirement and asked for contact information that will be passed on to the state’s health department, Manni added. Rhode Island officials have promised door-to-door checks on those individuals, but it’s still unclear who will perform them.
Out-of-state passenger vehicles that don’t stop at the highway checkpoints will be pulled over by state police and directed to one, the police official said.
“Interstate commerce will not be impeded,” Manni emphasized. “The procedure we have in place does not violate anyone’s constitutional rights.”
New Yorkers also have been subjected to travel restrictions from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said that people arriving from New York need to quarantine, and on Saturday, he announced he’d be setting up a checkpoint on I-95 to keep New Yorkers from entering the state by car.
Cuomo said he was unaware of the checkpoint.
“I don’t know what Florida did, but I will look into it,” he said.
The governor had no criticism of President Donald Trump’s decision to subject New York to a travel advisory rather than a “quarantine,” a decision the president announced on Saturday night.
“This is not a lockdown, it is a travel advisory to be implemented by the states, in essence,” Cuomo said. “It’s nothing that we haven’t been doing — nonessential people should stay at home, so it’s totally consistent with everything we’ve been doing. So I support what the president did, because it affirms what we have been doing.”
On Sunday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also said such restrictions were not helpful but added it wasn’t his primary concern.
“The only comment I have on it is we’ve got to be mindful of families that at this crucial moment want to reunite, whether that means families coming back to New York or leaving New York to go to another place where they’re based,” he said, adding: “A travel advisory isn’t something I’m going to fixate on. … I want to know when we’re going to get the ventilators, the PPEs [personal protective equipment] and the doctors and the nurses to save lives here in New York.”
David Giambusso contributed to this report.