FAQs Issued and New States Added to Travel Advisory
As LeadingAge NY previously reported, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order requiring all individuals traveling from states with “significant community-wide spread” of COVID-19 to quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state. There is an exemption from quarantine requirements for essential workers who meet certain conditions. The quarantine and essential worker requirements took effect June 25th. In addition to interim guidance issued last week, the Department of Health (DOH) recently posted a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document. Members are encouraged to review the document carefully; however, some highlights are noted below:
- The FAQs provide clarification on what constitutes an essential worker for the purposes of being able to return to work, provided certain conditions are met. The essential worker definition seems to encompass the work of our membership.
- The essential worker exemption applies not only to people traveling to New York State to address staffing shortages for short periods, but also to people returning to New York State who live and work here permanently.
- Certain conditions must be met for essential workers to return to work without a quarantine, including seeking diagnostic testing for COVID-19 within 24 hours of arrival; monitoring temperature and symptoms; wearing a face mask in public; social distancing; disinfecting workspaces for a minimum of 14 days; and avoiding extended periods in public, contact with strangers, and large congregate settings for a period of at least 14 days, unless required for essential work.
- Health care personnel are subject to additional conditions in order to return to work without a quarantine. They may work only if furloughing them would cause workforce shortages and other staffing options have been exhausted.
- If someone returns to New York State by traveling through multiple states, the quarantine or essential worker requirements apply if the person has been "in a designated state in the 14 days prior to arrival in New York State."
- A negative test does not eliminate the requirement to quarantine.
The impacted states in the travel advisory are published on the DOH website, and three new states were added on July 7th: Delaware, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Because the quarantine and essential worker requirements are triggered when someone returns from a state that is on the list of impacted states as of the date they enter or return to New York State, and the states on the list will evolve, we are providing the lists of all impacted states within specified time periods here. This will maintain an historical archive for member reference and will be updated as frequently as possible. To view the current list of impacted states, you may consult the DOH travel advisory website.
Notably, under a recent Executive Order, an employee who must quarantine as a result of voluntary travel to an affected state after June 25th is not entitled to paid COVID-19 sick leave or any other paid benefits, provided the travel was not undertaken at the direction of the employer. According to DOH guidance, this provision is intended to mirror existing law that makes New Yorkers ineligible for paid sick leave if they travel to certain high-spread countries. Under that law, an employee is ineligible for paid COVID-19 leave only if he or she was provided with notice of the travel advisory and the paid sick leave exclusion. Accordingly, members are advised to notify employees of the lack of paid sick leave for absences related to quarantine as a result of voluntary travel to affected states. Employees are eligible to use accrued leave provided by the employer, or to the extent that such employee does not have sufficient accrued leave, unpaid sick leave for the duration of his or her quarantine.