On June 24, 2020, the Governor of New York, joined by the Governors of New Jersey and Connecticut, announced a joint incoming travel advisory that requires anyone traveling from a state with significant community spread of COVID-19 to quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact with the impacted state. Specifically, the advisory applies to any individual arriving in New Jersey, New York, or Connecticut from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average. These states currently include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington. Without giving local residents time to plan, the quarantine went into effect on June 24, 2020 at midnight.
This travel advisory clearly impacts workers who, upon returning from the identified states for work or personal reasons, cannot work from home in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. In turn, businesses will need to plan for such employees’ 14-day absence. In addition, the list of states may change over the course of the summer, and employers should continue to monitor state websites for current information.
While there is no specific guidance on this yet, we anticipate that this travel advisory could also impact employee benefits. For example, employees who are required to quarantine may be entitled to paid benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) — if they are employed by an employer with fewer than 500 employee, this advisory is deemed a qualifying “order”, and they are otherwise eligible. Employees may otherwise be able to apply for unemployment benefits during the quarantine period under the CARES Act. Employers and employees can expect further guidance in these areas in the coming weeks.