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Quarantine Restrictions on Travelers Arriving in New York State Following Out of State Travel

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In response to increased rates of COVID-19 transmission in certain states within the United States, New York State has joined with New Jersey and Connecticut in jointly issuing a travel advisory for anyone returning from travel to states that have a significant degree of community-wide spread of COVID-19 (Executive Order 205). This can have a significant impact on employers.

Criteria for Designating States with Significant Community Spread

All travelers entering New York who have recently traveled within a state with either:

  • a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average; or
  • a testing positivity rate of higher than a 10% over a seven-day rolling average, will be required to quarantine for a period of 14 days consistent with the Department of Health (DOH) regulations for quarantine. Analysis of the metrics will be conducted weekly to determine if travelers from other states qualify.

The designated states with significant community spread will be conspicuously posted on the DOH website and will be updated weekly. Please check the site frequently as the information will change as often as daily, as rates of COVID-19 transmission increase or decrease.

Guidance for Travel

The travel advisory is effective at 12:01 am on Thursday, June 25, 2020. Persons who have traveled from within one of the designated states with significant community spread as defined by the metrics above, must quarantine when they enter New York for 14 days from the last travel within such designated state, provided on the date they enter into New York State that such state met the criteria for requiring such quarantine.

The requirements of the travel advisory do not apply to any individual passing through designated states for a limited duration (i.e., less than 24 hours) through the course of travel. Examples of such brief passage include but are not limited to: stopping at rest stops for vehicles, buses, and/or trains; or lay-overs for air travel, bus travel, or train travel.

The travel advisory requires all New Yorkers, as well as those visiting from out of state, to take personal responsibility for complying with the advisory in the best interest of public health and safety.

Quarantine Requirements

Persons returning from travel to a designated state, and if such travel was for longer than the limited duration outlined above, will be required to quarantine for 14 days, unless they are an essential worker identified below. The requirements to safely quarantine include:

  • The individual must not be in public or otherwise leave the quarters that they have identified as suitable for their quarantine.
  • The individual must be situated in separate quarters with a separate bathroom facility for each individual or family group. Access to a sink with soap, water, and paper towels is necessary.
  • Cleaning supplies (e.g. household cleaning wipes, bleach) must be provided in any shared bathroom.
  • The individual must have a way to self-quarantine from household members as soon as fever or other symptoms develop, in a separate room(s) with a separate door. Given that an exposed person might become ill while sleeping, the exposed person must sleep in a separate bedroom from household members.
  • Food must be delivered to the person’s quarters.
  • Quarters must have a supply of face masks for individuals to put on if they become symptomatic.
  • Garbage must be bagged and left outside for routine pick up. Special handling is not required.
  • A system for temperature and symptom monitoring must be implemented to provide assessment in-place for the quarantined persons in their separate quarters.
  • Nearby medical facilities must be notified, if the individual begins to experience more than mild symptoms and may require medical assistance.
  • The quarters must be secure against unauthorized access.

Violators of this quarantine are subject to penalties of up to $10,000.

Travel Advisory Exemptions for First Responders and Essential Workers

Employers must determine which personnel are subject to the mandatory quarantine when returning from a restricted travel area. Exceptions to the travel advisory are permitted for essential workers and are limited based on the duration of time in designated states, as well as the intended duration of time in New York.

Short Term – for essential workers traveling to New York State for a period of less than 12 hours.

  • This includes instances such as an essential worker passing through New York, delivering goods, awaiting flight layovers, and other short duration activities.
  • Essential workers should stay in their vehicle and/or limit personal exposure by avoiding public spaces as much as possible.
  • Essential workers should monitor temperature and signs of symptoms, wear a face covering when in public, maintain social distance, and clean and disinfect workspaces.
  • Essential workers are required, to the extent possible, to avoid extended periods in public, contact with strangers, and large congregate settings.

Medium Term – for essential workers traveling to New York State for a period of less than 36 hours, requiring them to stay overnight.

  • This includes instances such as an essential worker delivering multiple goods in New York, awaiting longer flight layover, and other medium duration activities.
  • Essential workers should monitor temperature and signs of symptoms, wear a face covering when in public, maintain social distance, and clean and disinfect workspaces.
  • Essential workers are required, to the extent possible, to avoid extended periods in public, contact with strangers, and large congregate settings.

Long Term – for essential workers traveling to New York State for a period of greater than 36 hours, requiring them to stay several days.

  • This includes instances such as an essential worker working on longer projects, fulfilling extended employment obligations, and other longer duration activities.
  • Essential workers should seek diagnostic testing for COVID-19 as soon as possible upon arrival (within 24 hours) to ensure they are not positive.
  • Essential workers should monitor temperature and signs of symptoms, wear a face covering when in public, maintain social distancing, clean and disinfect workspaces for a minimum of 14 days.
  • Essential workers, to the extent possible, are required to avoid extended periods in public, contact with strangers, and large congregate settings for a period of, at least, 7 days.

Employers and their essential employees are expected to comply with previously issued DOH guidance regarding return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the employee had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19. Additionally, this guidance may be superseded by more specific industry guidance for a particular industry (e.g., for a nursing home worker, a negative test PCR test will be required before return to work).

Please consult the DOH website and resources for additional details and information regarding isolation procedures for when a person under quarantine is diagnosed with COVID-19 or develops symptoms.

For reference, an “essential worker” is

  1. any individual employed by an entity included on the Empire State Development (ESD) Essential Business list; or
  2. any individual who meets the COVID-19 testing criteria, pursuant to their status as either an individual who is employed as a health care worker, first responder, or in any position within a nursing home, long-term care facility, or other congregate care setting, or an individual who is employed as an essential employee who directly interacts with the public while working, pursuant to DOH Protocol for COVID-19 Testing, issued May 31, 2020, or
  3. any other worker deemed such by the Commissioner of Health.

Executive Order 205 and COVID-19 Related Benefits

Employers should think about whether COVID-19 related benefits apply to non-essential employees who are subject to the 14-day quarantine. Executive Order 202.45 which was issued after Executive Order 205 clarified that employees who voluntarily travel (not for employment purposes) and who were provided notice of the travel advisory and limitations of the law before traveling to a restricted travel area are NOT eligible for NY COVID-19 Leave. Employers should provide their employees with written notice for such leave to be unpaid.

Currently under the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, employees are allowed paid leave (depending on the size and type of employer) if they are subject to a “state-issued COVID-19 quarantine order”. A court might find that Executive Order 205 establishes a “state-issued COVID-19 quarantine order”.

If you have any questions on this guidance, please contact Caroline Organ, Director of Human Resources at 854-5034 or cmo@bspcpa.com.