Yet again, the New York State Department of Health updated its COVID-19 Travel Advisory (the “Advisory”) for domestic and international travel on April 10, 2021. As we recently reported, as of April 1, 2021, New York State initially loosened quarantine requirements for domestic travel. However, New York State altered that guidance and now delineates recommendations based on vaccination status. The Advisory also now relaxes restrictions on international travel.
As an initial matter, the Advisory clarifies the definitions of “domestic travel,” “fully vaccinated,” and “recently recovered” in relation to the travel guidance.
- “Domestic travel” is defined as travel lasting for twenty-four (24) hours or longer to states or United States territories other than contiguous states (i.e., New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont).
- The Advisory states that an individual is “fully vaccinated” if two (2) or more weeks have passed after the individual received the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
- “Recently recovered” is defined as being: (1) recovered from laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 as to meet the criteria for discontinuation of isolation; (2) within three (3) months since the initial onset of COVID-19 symptoms or, if asymptomatic during the illness, the date of a positive COVID-19 test; and (3) asymptomatic.
The Advisory does not impose any testing or quarantine requirements for domestic travel, except for unvaccinated healthcare workers as described below. While this is similar to the April 1, 2021 version of the Advisory, the Advisory now states that New York State recommends that unvaccinated domestic travelers, who have not recently recovered from COVID-19, get tested between three (3) and five (5) days after travel. Also, the Advisory recommends that these individuals consider self-quarantining for seven (7) days if tested as directed above or ten (10) days if not tested. Regardless of the test result, unvaccinated domestic travelers should avoid contact with people at higher risk for severe disease for fourteen (14) days from the date of arrival in New York.
Except for unvaccinated healthcare workers, the Advisory also removes any testing or quarantine requirements for international travelers. However, the Advisory includes the following recommendations, which are consistent with the current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”):
- International travelers who are fully vaccinated should get a COVID-19 test between three (3) and five (5) days after arriving in New York.
- All international travel should be delayed until the traveler is fully vaccinated.
- If an unvaccinated individual does travel abroad, the individual should get a COVID-19 test between three (3) and five (5) days after arriving in New York. Further, an unvaccinated international traveler should consider self-quarantining for seven (7) days if tested as directed above or ten (10) days if not tested. Regardless of the test result, unvaccinated international travelers should avoid contact with people at higher risk for severe disease for fourteen (14) days from the date of arrival in New York.
The above guidance does not apply to international travelers arriving from Canada who cross at a land border. These travelers must comply with the agreement between the United States and Canada regarding land travel.
Travel Restrictions for Unvaccinated Healthcare Workers
The Advisory imposes the following requirements for unvaccinated healthcare workers arriving in New York State who have not recently recovered from COVID-19:
- Healthcare workers who work in nursing homes, enhanced assisted living residences, or assisted living programs must stay home from work for fourteen (14) days upon arrival in New York from either domestic or international travel.
- Healthcare workers who work in all other healthcare settings cannot return to work for ten (10) days after international travel. However, this time period can be shortened to seven (7) days if the healthcare worker gets tested between three (3) and five (5) days after travel and receives a negative test result. Regardless of the test result, these workers must avoid contact with people at higher risk for severe disease for fourteen (14) days from the date of arrival in New York. No such requirement exists for domestic travel.
Notably, all international and domestic travelers (as defined by the Advisory) are still required to complete the New York State Travel Form. The Advisory further includes a reminder that New York State residents who voluntarily engage in non-essential travel are not eligible for benefits under New York’s COVID-19 Sick Leave Law.
Overall, New York employers should carefully review the Advisory and consult with counsel to assess whether changes should be made to their travel policies.