Domestic travelers will no longer be required to quarantine after entering New York from another state or territory within the United States starting April 1
In the interim, New York State has amended its travel policy to permit certain individuals, who have been vaccinated and those who have tested positive for COVID-19 three months before their travel, to travel outside of New York and not quarantine upon return
New York State’s travel advisory guidance has zigzagged once again. On March 10, 2021, new interim guidance was released by the Department of Health (DOH) relating to quarantine restrictions for travelers arriving in New York State following out-of-state travel. As we previously reported, the DOH initially issued guidelines on out-of-state travel on June 24, 2020, and was later updated on October 8, 2020, November 3, 2020, and now March 10, 2021. As further discussed below, the updated interim guidance significantly relaxes travel restrictions.
A day later, on March 11, 2021, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that domestic travelers will no longer be required to quarantine after entering New York from another state or territory within the United States starting April 1. Accordingly, individuals engaging in domestic travel are advised to follow the updated interim guidance until the travel advisory is lifted April 1.
Exemptions to Mandatory Quarantine after Domestic Travel
The interim guidance includes the following existing and new exemptions to mandatory quarantines after travel outside of New York.
Existing and continuing exemptions:
- Individuals traveling to a border state (e.g., Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont) for any amount of time.
- Individuals who leave New York State for less than 24 hours.
- First responders and other essential workers.
- Note: While these individuals may be exempt from a mandatory quarantine, they still must follow the enumerated protocols for short-term, medium-term, and long term-travel.
- Asymptomatic individuals, who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, do not need to quarantine during the first three months after full vaccination, if travelers:
- Are fully vaccinated (e.g., ≥ two weeks following receipt of the second dose in a two-dose series, or ≥ two weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
- Are within three months following receipt of the last dose in the series
- Have remained asymptomatic since last COVID-19 exposure
- Asymptomatic individuals, who have previously been diagnosed with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 and have since recovered, are not required to retest and quarantine within three months after the date of symptoms from the initial COVID-19 infection or date of first positive diagnostic test, if asymptomatic during illness.
Existing and continuing quarantine reduction rules:
The interim guidance continues to permit domestic travelers to “test out” of quarantine. Specifically, travelers entering New York from a non-border state, who have been outside of New York for more than 24 hours, will have to quarantine with the DOH’s guidance unless they have:
- Obtained a test within three days prior to arrival in New York.
- Quarantined according to department guidelines for a minimum of three days, measured from time of arrival.
- Obtained a diagnostic test on the fourth day in New York, measured from time of arrival. Travelers that meet the criteria above may exit quarantine upon receipt of the second negative diagnostic test result.
The interim guidance references and incorporates current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. Specifically, air passengers traveling to the United States from another country must show either:
- Documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 within the previous three months.
- A negative test result from no more than three days prior to day of travel to the airline before boarding the flight.
This applies to both U.S. residents and visitors from other countries. Notably, documentation of vaccination status or antibody test results will not be accepted as proof of COVID-19 status.
After arrival in the United States, travelers must either quarantine for seven days with a test three to five days after travel, or quarantine for the full 10 days without a test. This requirement applies to all international travelers whether they were tested before boarding, are recovered from a previous COVID-19 infection, or are fully vaccinated.
Eligibility for Paid Sick Leave
Despite the expansion of exemptions to mandatory quarantines relating to travel, the interim guidance makes it clear that non-essential travel remains strongly discouraged. Indeed, New York’s longstanding exemption to the eligibility of New York’s COVID-19 paid sick leave law for those that engage in voluntary personal travel continues.
All individuals coming into New York from either a non-border state or U.S. territory, or any other country, whether or not such person is a New York resident, is still required to complete the traveler health form upon entering New York. Travelers may be asked to show proof of vaccination status or proof of recovery from laboratory confirmed COVID-19. Anyone who violates a quarantine order may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000, or imprisonment up to 15 days.
Words of Caution
The interim guidance makes it clear that both the DOH and CDC are unsure as to the scope of protection by the COVID-19 vaccines, beyond preventing severe and symptomatic COVID-19. Specifically, it cautions that little is known about how much the vaccines might reduce transmission, how long protections lasts, and the ability of the vaccines to prevent against variants of the disease. Moreover, some individuals who were previously infected with COVID-19 have been infected again at a later time. For all of those reasons, employers should continue to enforce COVID-19 prevention protocols (e.g., masks, social distancing), even for employees who have been vaccinated.
While the expansion of exemptions per the interim guidance is welcomed by many employers, the application of the rules are fact specific and remain complex. We encourage employers to seek legal counsel when attempting to address these complicated employee issues.
For more information or immediate guidance, contact:
- Christopher P. Maugans
- Kristin Klein Wheaton
- Caroline J. Berdzik
- Peter J. Woo
- Or another member of the Employment and Labor practice