Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, announced on Thursday that all travelers from New York arriving in her state would be required to enter a 14-day self-quarantine and to provide personal information to state authorities.
Raimondo signed an executive order on Thursday empowering state police and the National Guard to enforce the measure.
“I understand this is an extreme measure,” Raimondo told reporters at a press conference. The New York City metropolitan area “is a hot zone and the infection rate is skyrocketing,” Raimondo said in explaining her executive order. Raimondo’s order follows Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s announcement that all travelers to his state from New York must self-quarantine for 14 days, although Florida has not begun tracking those travelers.
Rhode Island state police superintendent Col. James M. Manni said at the same press conference that occupants of vehicles with New York license plates will be asked their destination when stopped by state troopers. If their destination is not anywhere in Rhode Island, they will be allowed to pass through without providing personal information. Individuals who are traveling to a Rhode Island destination will be required to provide the address of their destination, as well as the phone numbers and names of their family members.
The order applies to all travelers arriving by ground transportation, including buses, trains, and cars, although commercial vehicles with New York plates will not be stopped in order to facilitate interstate trade. The National Guard has already been deployed to the state’s T.F. Green Airport, where guardsmen are asking for personal contact information from all travelers to track any additional spread of coronavirus.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island criticized the executive order as infringing upon the rights of U.S. citizens.
“The ACLU recognizes that strong measures are needed to address the public health crisis we are witnessing,” ACLU Rhode Island executive director Steven Brown said in a statement, “but giving the State Police the power to stop any New York-registered cars that are merely traveling through the state is a blunderbuss approach that cannot be justified in light of its substantial impact on civil liberties.”