Seyfarth Synopsis: New York has announced new travel quarantine and reopening rules. Domestic travelers are no longer subject to the Travel Advisory within 90 days of their full vaccination, certain gatherings can increase in size, and arts and entertainment venues can reopen at 33 percent capacity. These new modifications put New York on the path back to normalcy.
Travel Advisory Changes
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York State issued quarantine rules for travelers, updating the rules periodically as new developments took place. In late December 2020, Governor Cuomo reduced the Travel Advisory from 14 days to 10 days, as explained in detail here. But with increasing numbers of people being vaccinated, employers have questioned how this would this impact New York's Travel Advisory.
On March 3, 2021, Governor Cuomo announced new modifications to the Travel Advisory for vaccinated travelers. Domestic travelers to New York State, who have been fully vaccinated no longer have to quarantine or test out if they received the full vaccination within 90 days of arrival. (We anticipate additional updates to the 90 day time period as further evidence develops about vaccine duration and booster shots). Individuals who have not been vaccinated or who have not had both shots of the vaccine (if applicable), are still subject to the Travel Advisory. The exceptions for essential workers still remains in place. However, international travelers must continue to follow the CDC quarantine guidelines.
Based on the new rule, employees who are fully vaccinated and traveling domestically for work would likely not be eligible for COVID-19 quarantine leave. Earlier in the pandemic, New York State issued FAQs on when an employee would be eligible for COVID-19 quarantine leave. Generally, as explained in detail here, an employee who voluntarily traveled would not be eligible for the leave, but if the travel was part of their employment or at their employer's discretion, then they could be eligible for the leave. Now, as more and more people are getting vaccinated, employers should feel more comfortable sending fully vaccinated employees on domestic business travel. This may also be a good reason for certain employers to ask employees whether or not they have been vaccinated (in a manner compliant with the EEOC's guidance on such inquiries, as explained in question K.3. See guidance here).
Easing of Restrictions
In addition to the new Travel Advisory changes, Governor Cuomo lifted several other restrictions. Beginning March 22, residential gatherings of up to 25 people can be held outdoors, but indoor residential gatherings remain capped at 10 people. Non-residential social gatherings can have up to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors.
Additionally, Cuomo announced that beginning April 2, event, arts and entertainment venues can reopen at 33 percent capacity, up to 100 people indoors and up to 200 people outdoors. If all attendees present proof of negative test prior to entry, capacity can increase up to 150 people indoors and up to 500 people outdoors. Venues will need to adhere to all applicable Department of Health guidance, and all attendees will have to socially distance and wear face coverings.
It seems fairly clear that restrictions will be easing and hopefully that will be a continuing trend. As was the case when restrictions were increasing, it will be imperative to work with legal counsel to navigate the patchwork of these rules fashioned on the fly.
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