New York Updates COVID-19 Guidance Including Daily Health Screening Requirements
On June 8, 2021, New York State updated the NY Forward Guidance for several industries, including office-based and food services employers, with changes that many people feel are overdue.
In addition to incorporating updated mask, physical distancing, and capacity rules that have been in place since New York adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for fully vaccinated individuals on May 19, 2021, the most significant modification to the NY Forward Guidance update is the change in screening questions. The guidance no longer requires employers to ask about symptoms, close contact, or COVID-19 infections that occurred in the last 14 days. Instead, the new daily health screening questions properly reflect the most current CDC and New York State Department of Health isolation and quarantine guidelines for COVID-19.
The following three screening questions are required:
Are you currently experiencing, or recently experienced (in the last 48 hours), any new or worsening COVID-19 symptoms?
Have you had close contact (being within six feet for at least 10 minutes over a 24-hour period) or proximate contact (as determined by health authorities) in the past 10 days with any person confirmed by diagnostic test, or suspected based on symptoms, to have COVID-19?
Have you tested positive through a diagnostic test for COVID-19 in the past 10 days?
Prior to June 8, the time period for all three questions was 14 days, which was premised on outdated COVID-19 public health authority guidance. In addition, if an employee had a preexisting condition that mirrored COVID-19 symptoms, such as migraines, they were required to answer the symptom screening question in the affirmative. The updated guidance permits employees to account for preexisting conditions.
Finally, the updated NY Forward Guidance now expressly provides an exemption from answering the close-contact question in the affirmative for employees who are either fully vaccinated or who have recently (in the last three months) fully recovered from COVID-19.
The updated guidance is a reminder to employers that the NY Forward Guidance is still applicable for businesses seeking to operate in person.