fb-pixel

Travelers to Mass. question lack of enforcement on state’s new travel order

The new Massachusetts Travel Order went into effect on August 1.
The new Massachusetts Travel Order went into effect on August 1.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Travelers at Logan International Airport Sunday questioned the lack of enforcement of the state’s new travel order intended to limit incoming cases of COVID-19, as they tried to comply with it.

Governor Charlie Baker has said those who come from designated states and don’t quarantine for two weeks face a $500-a-day fine. But enforcement is based on the honor system, and some travelers this weekend told the Globe they were frustrated when they were never questioned about their status at the airport after taking steps to comply.

Shaianne Shroyer, 26, of Atlanta, who arrived in Boston Sunday morning, said no one asked whether she had undergone a COVID-19 test or checked whether she had completed the required Massachusetts Travel Form before she left the airport.

Advertisement



She planned to spend the next few days visiting family members in Massachusetts and New York, she said, and was perplexed that travelers headed to this state aren’t informed about the order.

“I’ve walked past plenty of TSA workers [after landing at Logan], and not a single one asked where I was traveling to,” she said. “It seems like that it’s not that big of a deal, if you say it, and don’t enforce it.”

Baker’s order exempts people coming from states considered “lower-risk” — New Jersey, New York, and Hawaii, plus the rest of New England. People who can document a negative COVID-19 test within the past three days are also exempt, as well as people in some other categories, including those coming to Massachusetts for medical care, military members, and workers for critical infrastructure projects.

But despite the urgency from Baker about the order, little enforcement appeared to be taking place at Logan Sunday.

Kathleen Elliott, who was returning with her husband to their South Shore home after visiting their daughter in Tampa, said no mention of Baker’s travel order was made on her Spirit Airlines flight.

Advertisement



Elliott, 52, who is a nurse, supports the measures Baker has put in place and wished more people followed those rules.

“Some still aren’t taking this seriously, and it puts more stress on us,” Elliott said. “Wear a mask, it’s that simple.”

Antoine Robinson, 43, who was returning home with his wife after visiting family in Orlando, also said no announcement about the order had been made on his Spirit Airlines flight from Florida.

During their time in Orlando, Robinson said he was concerned by people gathering in large groups, despite warnings from health officials.

“There were some massive crowds down there,” he said.

Reena Patel, 32, stepped off her Alaska Airlines flight from the Bay Area in California with a bundle of luggage, a baby strapped to her chest, and two more children in tow.

She expected that she and her family would only have to quarantine for 14 days, she said, but didn’t know about registering with the state or the steep fine. No mention was made of either of those measures on her flight.

Patel, a former nurse who is moving to Hingham with her family, said they will obey the order. But she still has concerns.

“If that’s what they want us to do, that’s what we’ll do,” she said. “But I’m wondering how I’ll get groceries.”

The order from Baker comes as Massachusetts has experienced a modest increase in numbers of new COVID-19 cases.

Advertisement



The confirmed death toll due to the coronavirus in Massachusetts reached 8,417 Sunday, with 11 newly reported deaths, according to the state. The number of confirmed cases of the disease increased by 353, for a total of 110,430.

A closely watched metric by health experts — the seven-day average positive rate for molecular tests — also ticked upward to 2.2 percent as of Saturday, the state reported.

Earlier in the day, Shroyer said she had looked up the Massachusetts travel order on the state website before making her trip from Georgia. She saw the exemption that allows travelers to pass through Massachusetts to other states, and believed it applied to her.

In Atlanta, where she boarded a Spirit Airlines flight to Boston, she said a small sign at the terminal — about 8½ by 11 inches — listed travel orders in other states, but not Massachusetts.

Passengers on the flight were notified over the plane’s intercom about the Massachusetts travel order as they left the airport, she said in a phone interview.

“I thought we were in the clear since we were going to Massachusetts,” she said. “Not once were we told anything — only when we were pulling onto the runway.”

When Shroyer arrived at Logan Sunday morning, she saw no one enforcing the order’s provisions or educating travelers about how to comply, she said.

In a statement from the Baker administration Sunday, a spokesman noted the state website includes instructions on how to quarantine. Those rules allow travelers to leave Massachusetts before they complete their 14-day quarantine.

Advertisement



But Shroyer is concerned that when she returns to Logan Friday for her trip home, she might be prevented from flying back to Atlanta in order to quarantine in Massachusetts.

“The biggest thing is, if they didn’t care when I came, are they going to care when I’m leaving?” she asked. “I just wish there was more information about it.”

Jessica Rinaldi of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com. Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.