Effective Wednesday November 4, 2020, travelers to New York State from non-contiguous “hot spot” states that have been deemed restricted by New York’s Department of Health (“DOH”) because of COVID-19 outbreaks, will have a way to utilize testing to avoid the mandatory 14-day quarantine. Essential workers have already had such an exception to the 14-day quarantine allowing them to work and will continue to now if:
They seek a COVID-19 diagnostic test within 24 hours of arrival back in New York;
They monitor their temperature/symptoms, wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, clean and disinfect workspaces for 14 days; and
To the extent possible, avoid extended periods in public, contact with strangers and large congregate setting for 14 days.
Travelers to New York who are not essential workers can now avoid the 14-day quarantine by:
Seeking COVID-19 diagnostic testing within 72 hours prior to departure from the restricted state; and
Upon arrival in New York, quarantine as per DOH guidelines for 3 days and on day 4 seek a diagnostic test in NY and exit quarantine upon negative result.
No one, whether an essential worker or not, needs an exemption from the 14-day quarantine if the travel is from a state contiguous to New York. All travelers, however, will be required to fill out a Traveler Health Form if they arrive in New York through an airport.
For employees who had to quarantine and miss work under the previous COVID-19 regulations because of a voluntary trip to a restricted state, they were not eligible to be paid New York State COVID-19 sick pay. There is nothing in the new policy about New York State COVID-19 sick pay, and there is particular interest in whether workdays missed waiting for test results will be treated differently from those missed for actual quarantine. We await any guidance on that from the Governor’s office or the DOH.
Separately, emergency paid sick leave under the federal Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (“FFCRA”) does not have an exception for voluntary travel, so employers subject to that statute will have to provide it (though the FFCRA does provide refundable tax credits for the payments).