By Joseph S. Brown, Esq.
UPDATED MARCH 22, 2021
In February, the Labor & Employment Group prepared an article entitled "My Employee is Fully Vaccinated: Now What?" which covered the current state of guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State of New York Department of Health, and local health departments concerning fully vaccinated individuals. That instant classic quickly became obsolete when those agencies issued new guidance.
So, in this article we give you the “remix” of our previous hit song with the latest updates for New York employers on: (1) the CDC’s First Set of Guidelines on How Fully Vaccinated People Can Visit Safely with Others; (2) New York’s Quarantine Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated Individuals; and (3) New York’s Travel Advisory for Fully Vaccinated Individuals. Stay tuned for bonus tracks in the weeks to come.
CDC Says Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather Without Masks and Social Distancing
On March 8, 2021, the CDC issued its first set of recommendations on activities that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely resume, which can you can find here.
Fully vaccinated people can:
- Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
- Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
- Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic
For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:
- Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing
- Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease
- Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households
- Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings
- Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- Follow guidance issued by individual employers
- Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations
These guidelines are welcome news as we hope to engage in some of the pre-pandemic activities that we used to enjoy. As always, you will want to check the guidance from your state and local authorities before taking any actions.
But what do these new CDC guidelines mean for your workplace? The answer is not much unless everyone entering your workplace is fully vaccinated.
As stated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): “[w]orkers who are vaccinated must continue to follow protective measures, such as wearing a face covering and remaining physically distant, because at this time, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines prevent transmission of the virus from person-to-person.” For now, masks, distancing, and bans on gatherings in the workplace will remain the norm until the data suggests those restrictions can be lifted.
Updated Quarantine Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated Individuals
In recent weeks, federal and state authorities began providing guidance on questions such as: (1) Must individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 quarantine if they have been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of the virus? and (2) Does being fully vaccinated exempt an employee from New York’s Travel Advisory? But the answers were about as clear as mud for New York employers. As of today, those answers are less muddy.
Last month, the CDC issued guidance available here that said vaccinated persons with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria: (1) are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 ≥2 weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or ≥2 weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen); and (2) have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure. Any fully vaccinated person who experiences symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should isolate themselves from others, be clinically evaluated for COVID-19, and tested if indicated.
On March 10, 2021, the New York State Department of Health formally updated its guidance which can be accessed here. Under the NYSDOH guidance, certain individuals no longer need to quarantine after an exposure to COVID-19. Individuals do not need to quarantine if:
- Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine); AND
- Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series; AND
Have remained asymptomatic since last COVID-19 exposure.
New York requires fully vaccinated asymptomatic individuals be within that three-month range to avoid quarantine whereas the CDC guidance does not. Employers in New York should follow the New York State Department of Health Guidance and also consult their local health department for further guidance which may have additional information. The only difference with the CDC guidance is that New York requires fully vaccinated asymptomatic individuals be within that three-month range to avoid quarantine whereas the CDC guidance does not contain such a requirement. Employers in New York should follow the guidance from the New York State Department of Health Guidance and consult their local health department for further information.
Updated New York Travel Advisory for Fully Vaccinated Individuals
On March 10, 2021, New York updated the Travel Advisory website and issued new guidance entitled “Interim Guidance for Quarantine Restrictions on Travelers Arriving in New York State Following Out of State Travel”, which you can access and read about here.
Hurwitz & Fine continues to monitor and analyze these updates and advise employers on matters related to the coronavirus outbreak. Please contact any member of the firm’s Labor & Employment team for guidance on these evolving issues at 716-849-8900, by e-mail, or visiting our website at www.hurwitzfine.com.
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Joseph S. Brown – [email protected]
Ann E. Evanko – [email protected]
Katherine L. Wood – [email protected]