New York Issues Updated Quarantine Guidance and Return to Work Guidance for Healthcare Personnel

December 30, 2020

By: Caitlin A. Anderson and Hermes Fernandez

On December 26, 2020, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) updated its mandatory quarantine requirements (the Quarantine Advisory) for people who have been exposed to COVID-19 but do not develop symptoms. The Quarantine Advisory may be found here. Previously, asymptomatic individuals who had been exposed to COVID-19 had to quarantine for 14 days. Now, such individuals must quarantine for 10 days. Importantly, the Quarantine Advisory also applies to individuals who traveled to a non-border state or country. DOH also updated its protocols for healthcare personnel to return to work following a COVID-19 exposure, so long as they remain asymptomatic (the Healthcare Protocols). They, too, will be subject to the new shortened 10-day quarantine. Such protocols may be found here. We discuss each updated guidance document below. 

New York’s Updated Quarantine Advisory

The Quarantine Advisory now allow a mandatory quarantine to end after 10 days, instead of 14, when a person exposed to COVID-19 does not develop symptoms during such 10-day period. The exposed person does not have to receive a test to exit quarantine, so long as no symptoms are reported during the quarantine period. 

After leaving quarantine, the exposed individual must continue daily symptom monitoring through day 14. If symptoms develop during such time, the exposed individual should immediately self-isolate and contact their health provider or the local health department to report such change. Further, the exposed individual must strictly continue to wear face coverings and other non-pharmaceutical interventions, including hand hygiene. 

The Quarantine Advisory also applies to individuals who traveled to a non-border state or CDC Level 2 or higher country. Previously, travelers who did not utilize the “test-out” protocols to leave their quarantine after four days had to quarantine for 14 days. Now, travelers who do not utilize the “test-out” protocols and do not develop symptoms of COVID-19 must quarantine for only 10 days. For more information regarding the travel advisory, including the “test-out” protocols, please see this information memo.

The changes made by the Quarantine Advisory partially aligns New York’s quarantine policies with the CDC quarantine guidance, which may be found here.

Updated Healthcare Protocols

The Updated Healthcare Protocols apply to healthcare personnel returning to work after a COVID-19 exposure or travel to any non-border state. The exposure protocols are the same as the Quarantine Advisory. Most healthcare personnel who have been exposed to COVID-19 but are asymptomatic may return to work after 10 days of quarantine. 

There are, however, important differences between the Quarantine Advisory and the Updated Healthcare Protocols. Healthcare personnel working at nursing homes or adult care facilities certified as EALRs or ALPs may end their quarantine but cannot return to work in 10 days. Such healthcare personnel cannot return to work for 14 days.

Further, there are additional requirements for healthcare personnel who travel out of state. Healthcare personnel returning from travel to a non-contiguous state or country subject to a CDC Level 2 or higher COVID-19 risk assessment level must be tested for COVID-19 on their fourth day in New York. Such healthcare personnel also must continue to follow the essential worker guidance from the travel advisory.

Healthcare personnel who are furloughed because of exposure with a known positive case may qualify for paid sick leave benefits. Please note, however, that any New York employee who voluntarily travels to a non-contiguous state or CDC Level 2 or higher country for personal reasons do not qualify for paid sick leave under the New York paid sick leave law. 

If you have questions, or want to effect the standards applicable to your industry, please contact Hermes Fernandez, Caitlin Anderson or the attorney at the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.