Travel Restrictions in the Time of COVID-19 Crisis

Written by Shelia Dunn, NMA Communications Director with Joe Cadillic, MassPrivatel Blog

The Street Surveillance Watch Blog comes to you biweekly on the National Motorists Association Blog. If you have comments or suggestions, write a comment after this blog or contact us at [email protected].

Travel Restrictions in the Time of COVID-19 Crisis

Ever since the COVID-19 crises began, the constitutionality of certain restrictions has been questioned by the public. Street surveillance and travel restrictions have been implemented and fall into that question category. To understand the depth of travel restrictions, check out this recent state-by-state guide and video from Travel + Leisure.

Many of the travel restrictions that don’t include staying in place, concern movement into a different state or a city.

Under federal law, the freedom of movement is governed primarily by the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the US Constitution. It states, “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”

The right to travel is not exactly enshrined in our constitution, but there have been many court cases since the founding of our country that have tried to make more clear the state’s power to restrict interstate. Beginning in the 1800s, the US Supreme Court upheld the freedom of movement but never enshrined the federal government the authority to protect freedom of movement. This authority has been incrementally given to the states by SCOTUS starting in 1871 with Slaughter-House Cases, 83 US 36 (1873).

A recent Harvard Law Review blog post entitled Contagion and the Right to Travel takes a look at this contentious issue during the time of Covid-19.

Here is a look at how many states are currently handling travel restrictions. Out-of-state travelers wishing to go to Alaska, Florida, and Hawaii must quarantine for 14-days.

Connecticut, like many other states, has a shelter-in-place order called Stay Safe, Stay Home, which is in effect for only essential activities. Any person coming into Connecticut by any mode of transportation is strongly urged to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Some states like Utah are asking all adults entering the state to disclose their travel plans.

Delaware Law enforcement police officers are stopping people with out-of-state license plates to ask about recent travel and inform them of the quarantine requirement, unless they are driving on I-95, I-295, or I-495.

Cities are also involved in travel restrictions. In Arkansas, for example, both Little Rock and Jonesboro have instituted a night curfew from 9:00 pm to 5:00 am.

Our nation, along with the rest of the world, has never encountered a crisis quite like this. Travel restrictions are just one issue that will continue to worry drivers, especially if they are paired with increased street surveillance.
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Here are other the top stories from the past several weeks regarding street surveillance:

Joe also has posted the following surveillance pieces recently at his MassPrivatel Blog.

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