CDC Updates Guidance on Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic
On August 21, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) updated its guidance on Travel during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Previously, the guidance recommended that travelers self-quarantine for 14 days after: (1) all international travel, and (2) domestic travel to areas with a high concentration of COVID-19 cases. The guidance now recommends that travelers “follow state, local, and territorial travel restrictions,” which may include “testing requirements, stay-at-home orders, and quarantine requirements upon arrival.” For international travel, the CDC recommends visiting the destination’s Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health or the U.S. State Department website for information about quarantine requirements.
Despite the CDC’s shift away from the 14-day quarantine recommendation upon return from international travel, CDC Level 3 Travel Health Warnings remain in place for nearly 200 countries – recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to these areas. In addition, foreign nationals who have been to China, Iran, most countries in Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland or Brazil during the past 14 days are still not permitted to enter the United States due to a Presidential declaration. According to the U.S. State Department, citizens and legal permanent residents are permitted to return from these areas, but may be required to travel through select airports with enhanced screening procedures.
Furthermore, in recent weeks, a number of states have issued travel advisories and guidance for travelers, several of which include either a mandated or recommended 14-day self-quarantine following return from travel to certain “hot spot” areas. For example, on June 24, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an Executive Order requiring all travelers entering New York from a state or territory with a high positive test rate to quarantine for 14 days. The New York Department of Health has been publishing an updated list of states and territories that meet the criteria for quarantine. As of August 27, 2020, this list includes over thirty states and territories. Those who violate the quarantine order may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000 or imprisonment up to 15 days. Notably, the Order does not require a self-quarantine after international travel. However, any federal restrictions and guidance regarding such travel would still apply.
Other states that have issued advisories or guidance requiring or recommending a self-quarantine following travel include (but are not limited to): Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
In light of this federal and state guidance, employers should: (1) continue to monitor the travel restrictions and recommendations in the jurisdiction in which they operate, and (2) consider how these may impact business travel policies and, for employers who have resumed in-person operations, policies regarding return to work following international or out-of-state travel. Employers are also advised to consult with counsel, as certain considerations including anti-discrimination, wage and hour, and leave policies may be implicated.