We all daily hope for a “return to normal,” but experts say we aren’t there yet. Employees, however, may be jumping the gun and heading off on spring break adventures only to face challenges returning not only to work but even to home.
You must be tested for re-entry
Do you know those signs at the arena that say no reentry? We have some of those at the U.S. border as well. Beginning January 26, 2021, all air passengers coming into the U.S. must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three calendar days of entry into the U.S. or “proof they have recovered from the virus in the last 90 days.” Additional guidelines may apply to those returning from a specific country or those who visited certain countries during the trip. My colleague, Lori Chesser, has updates for immigrants as they face additional barriers returning to the U.S.
What if I drive?
The CDC rules relate to airline travel because that is a place the government has the infrastructure to check testing. However, employers may determine that if the CDC wants clear testing or proof of recovery, you want the same as it would demonstrate good faith compliance, not only with the specifics of the law but also the intent.
What do the rules currently say about isolation?
The CDC rules, updated February 18, 2021, indicate that a person who does not work in the healthcare setting may return if all of the following are true:
- At least 10 days after symptoms started
- At least 24 hours fever-free (without fever reducers); and
- After other symptoms have improved
The rules note in some instances that viral transmission may occur after 10 days.
Individuals who are asymptomatic but tested positive can return 10 days after the day of their first positive test. If they remain asymptomatic, secondary testing is not required.
Note: There is some disconnect in the rules. If an employee is known to be exposed but never obtains a test, they need to isolate for 14 days (not 10).
The Big Picture
Employers need to continue their travel policies and a case-by-case assessment of return to work. Continue to have employees complete the basic travel questions, be aware of hotspot areas, and the type of travel (planes, trains, and automobiles), and when in doubt, keep them out. It’s always a good idea to chat with your attorney if you have questions.