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New York Shortens Quarantine Period for Individuals Exposed to COVID-19

January 5, 2021

On December 29, 2020, New York Governor Cuomo announced modified COVID-19 quarantine guidelines, available here, which align with a portion of the revised quarantine guidelines announced by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

A. CDC Guidelines

As previously reported here, on December 2, 2020, the CDC announced two options for individuals without COVID-19 symptoms to reduce their quarantine:

    1. Individuals may stop their quarantine ten days after their exposure, without testing; or
    2. Individuals may stop their quarantine seven days after exposure, after receiving a negative COVID-19 test result.

The CDC, however, advised that local public health authorities will make the final decision about how long quarantine should last, based on local conditions and needs.

B. Modified New York Guidelines

The New York State Department of Health has updated its quarantine guidance to align with the first option proposed by the CDC for reducing the quarantine period.  Specifically, under the modified New York guidelines, an individual who has been exposed to COVID-19 (but who has not tested positive for the virus) can end the quarantine period after ten days, as long as the person has not experienced any symptoms.[1]  The individual, however, must continue monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 through the fourteenth day after exposure, and continue to follow all recommended practices for stopping the spread of COVID-19, i.e., wearing a mask, social distancing and avoiding gatherings.  If any symptoms develop, the individual should immediately self-isolate and contact the local health department or a healthcare provider to report the symptoms and to determine whether to seek testing.

Notably, the New York State Department of Health did not adopt the second option for reducing quarantine proposed by the CDC (i.e., permitting individuals to stop quarantine after seven days from exposure if they receive a negative COVID-19 test result).

The New York City Department of Health has also updated its quarantine guidelines, which can be found here, to adopt the modified New York State Department of Health guidance.

C. Next Steps

New York employees with no COVID-19 symptoms may be able to reduce their quarantine period and return to work more quickly by complying with this recent guidance published by the New York State Department of Health.  Please do not hesitate to contact any of our attorneys if you have any questions or need any assistance reviewing and updating your company’s COVID-19 procedures to address this modified New York guidance.

[1] These modified New York guidelines also shorten the required quarantine period under New York’s Travel Advisory from fourteen to ten days for individuals who: (a) are not essential workers; or (b) do not complete the testing requirements which allow them to exit quarantine earlier.  Additional information regarding New York’s Travel Advisory is available at:  https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory.