Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday a new testing-based policy for travelers ahead of the holiday season, after acknowledging that New York's travel quarantine list had become essentially meaningless given the rise in COVID-19 cases across the country.

The new policy asks travelers to take a COVID-19 test within three days before traveling to the state, followed by quarantine for another three days after entering New York. Travelers must then take a COVID-19 test on the fourth day. If the test is positive, the person needs to continue self-isolating for the remainder of the usual 14-day period.

This policy also applies to people flying into New York, and Cuomo said fliers need to take a test within a four-day window before their flight as well as when they get to the state. Only travelers who leave New York for less than 24 hours can avoid taking the first test to board a flight back to the state, but will still need to take a test within four days of their return.

Anyone who declines to get tested needs to quarantine for the full 14 days, he said.

While Cuomo said this policy was mandatory and people will need to show “proof” of negative test results to leave quarantine, he did not provide specifics on how enforcement will be carried out, saying that “local health departments” will be responsible.

The travel policy change is spurred by New York’s low rates compared to most of the country -- only Maine and Vermont have lower infection rates, Cuomo said.

“Travel has become an issue. The rest of the states, by definition if you're the third lowest, it means if anyone comes in from any state, they pose a threat. As New York has been doing better than most states, we've been dealing with this for a while,” Cuomo said during a press phone briefing Saturday. “There will be no quarantine list, there will be no metrics. There will be one rule that applies across the country.”

Still, the new policy does not apply to any of the contiguous states - New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Massachussets -- despite surging rates in those areas, Cuomo said, because enforcement would be nigh impossible.

“You're gonna say, ‘yeah but Connecticut and New Jersey have high infection rates.’ I know. And there's nothing we can really do about that, because you would disrupt everything,” Cuomo said. “If you quarantine those states it's just unworkable.”

Connecticut reported a spike up above 6% positivity rate Thursday though that had dropped back to 2.5% Friday. New Jersey reported a 5.15% positive test rate on October 26th, and Pennsylvania reported a rolling seven-day average positive test rate of 5.8% on Thursday.

Cuomo anticipates Thanksgiving, considered a busy travel holiday, to bring an “increase in the rate” as people travel to see relatives.

“We're having issues with small gatherings, which is almost a psychological issue. People think they are safe if they are with people they know,” he said. “Just because they're your family doesn't mean they're safe.”

“That's going to increase over Thanksgiving also,” he added. “And that's why I think these travel rules are going to be especially important.”