As the process of reopening continues across New York state, businesses are challenged to maximize safety of employees returning to work. Among those challenges is ensuring that they and their employees are up to date on New York’s guidelines for quarantine following interstate travel.
Pursuant to Executive Order No. 205 (the “Order”), issued by Governor Cuomo and effective as of Thursday, June 25, 2020, individuals are required to self-quarantine for 14 days after traveling for 24 hours or longer within states that have significant rates of transmission of COVID-19. The Order required the Commissioner of the Department of Health to issue a Travel Advisory designating which states are subject to the travel restrictions. Those who fail to follow the voluntary self-quarantine guidelines set forth in the Travel Advisory could be issued a mandatory quarantine order. Moreover, those who violate such a mandatory quarantine order could be subject to fines of up to $10,000:
Any violation of a quarantine or isolation order issued to an individual pursuant to the Commissioner of the Department of Health’s travel advisory by a local department of health or state department of health may be enforced pursuant to article 21 of the public health law, and non-compliance may additionally be deemed a violation pursuant to section 12 of the public health law subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
Just this week Governor Cuomo issued an update as to the advisory, which now covers 34 states, nearly twice as many as earlier this month, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentuky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. The determination as to which states are included is based on (1) a seven day rolling average, of positive tests in excess of 10%, or (2) the number of positive cases exceeding 10 per 100,000 residents. Travelers from these states, including returning New Yorkers, are now required to fill out a form documenting where they’re coming from, where they’re going and their local contact information before they leave the airport.
As COVID-19 infection rates in other parts of the country continue to rise, it is certainly advisable to maximize employee awareness of the Travel Advisory, the risks associated with travel to these states, and the potentially applicable state and local paid sick leave laws and ordinances. Employers may, consistent with best practices and applicable state and federal laws against discrimination, ask their employees to disclose past travel or future travel plans to assess whether their return to work could be a health risk to other employees or customers. In any event, it is certainly advisable to maximize employee awareness of the Travel Advisory, the risks associated with travel to these states, and the potentially applicable state and local paid sick leave laws and ordinances.
The Travel Advisory is just one of many factors New York employers must take into consideration as reopening continues. We remain committed to offering guidance in all areas including compliance, as new legislation and regulations unfold.