There are several reasons to be vaccinated—protecting your own health and that of others is the most important and should be the primary reason. An added benefit is that one can now qualify in New York to be exempt from the rigorous quarantine requirements upon proof of full vaccination within certain time periods.
Consider how much easier it would be for anyone who has stepped out of New York to non-contiguous states or U.S. Territories for more than 24 hours to now return without needing to comply with mandatory quarantine and testing requirements. While we are going to see more domestic travel with increased confidence in the travel industry and the easing of New York’s travel restrictions, we will need to see what develops within the next 3-6 months. This is especially true with respect to understanding the efficacy of the vaccines and the circulating variants to see if there is need for more caution or re-imposition of some restrictions.
My partner, Joe Brown, has been keeping you advised about the importance of vaccinations and its impact on one’s work in the office and on the job. He has also been updating you as various changes to New York’s travel restrictions are announced, and he will continue to do so. For a complete list of all of our labor & employment alerts, click here.
New York is one of the first states to impose travel restrictions and there have been several changes to the travel advisory guidance issued over the past year. Now, as of March 10, 2021, New York has issued yet another update, “Interim Guidance for Quarantine Restrictions on Travelers Arriving in New York State Following Out of State Travel” which updates the most recent prior guidance issued November 3, 2020.
The newly issued Guidance eases domestic travel restrictions and no longer requires fully vaccinated persons or persons who have recovered from COVID-19 to quarantine upon arrival in New York from non-contiguous states or U.S. Territories.
While the new Guidance makes no reference to when domestic travelers to New York may begin to rely on the new quarantine exemptions, Governor Cuomo made it clear in his press conference and press release of March 11th that it will be effective April 1, 2021.
The Interim Guidance states that consistent with recent CDC guidance, asymptomatic domestic travelers to New York who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 may be exempt from quarantine during the first three months after full vaccination, if they satisfy each of the following three criteria:
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.
The Interim Guidance also provides that consistent with CDC Guidance from February 13, 2021, asymptomatic individuals who have been previously diagnosed with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and have since recovered, are not required to retest and quarantine within three months after the date of symptom onset from the initial COVID-19 infection or date of first positive diagnostic test if asymptomatic during illness.
However, if you have a known COVID-19 exposure, regardless of quarantine status, then all individuals with a known COVID exposure must, upon return to New York, continue daily symptom monitoring through day 14, continue strict adherence to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions (hand hygiene, masks, etc.) through day 14 (even if fully vaccinated); and must immediately self-isolate if any symptoms develop and contact the local public authority or their healthcare provider to report this change in clinical status and determine if they need to seek testing. This rule does not apply, however, to domestic travelers who are returning from the contiguous states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.
Travelers may be asked to show proof of vaccination status or proof of recovery from laboratory-confirmed COVID-19.
There remain exceptions to this new “vaccination opt-out rule.” The lifting of travel quarantine restrictions, even for fully vaccinated individuals, do not apply to international travel and there is specific guidance for return travel from other countries, including from Canada due to federally authorized travel that should be consulted. Certain travel advisory exceptions for first responders and other essential workers is also reiterated in the new Interim Guidance.
If you are traveling to New York for the purpose of a medical appointment or healthcare procedure that cannot be postponed, you are encouraged to review the NYS Department of Health’s guidance on the quarantine procedures.
Given the ever-changing nature of COVID-19 and the existing and developing variants, we can expect additional guidance to be forthcoming. We will continue to keep you updated as changes occur. In the meantime, get a vaccine when you become eligible for it, wear your mask, and continue to be observant of social distancing.
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]