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New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania Issue COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Posted: July 13, 2020

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania recently announced travel restrictions for individuals entering the respective states to continue efforts to slow the transmission of COVID-19. Individuals traveling from states with high COVID-19 infection rates must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut use the same metrics in determining which states are on the restricted list. The restrictions apply to all travelers entering from states with positive COVID-19 test rates higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or higher than a 10 percent test positivity rate, over a seven-day average.

As of the date of this blog, the states on the restricted list are:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah

New York is the only state that has issued an executive order setting forth the requirements. The executive order imposes penalties on individuals who violate the quarantine or isolation order of up to $10,000 or imprisonment up to 15 days. However, travelers will not be expected to quarantine if passing through restricted states for a “limited duration” (e.g., rest stops, layovers for air travel). The New York Department of Health issued Interim Guidance for Quarantine Restrictions on Travelers Arriving in New York State Following Out of State Travel available here.

New York further sets forth specific exemptions for essential workers traveling to the state. The exemptions vary depending on the amount of time the essential worker will be in New York. Among other requirements, essential workers are required to avoid extended periods in public, contact with strangers, and large congregate settings.

Additionally, Governor Cuomo modified the COVID-19 paid sick leave law so that employees who voluntarily travel to one of the restricted states are not eligible for paid sick leave benefits, unless the travel was required by the employer. You can read more about the New York quarantine leave law here.

Employees who voluntarily travel to a restricted state may still be eligible for benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). Under the FFCRA, employees may be eligible for Earned Paid Sick Leave (“EPSL”) when subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine. For purposes of the FFCRA, a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order includes quarantine or isolation orders, as well as shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders, issued by any federal, state, or local government authority that cause you to be unable to work (or to telework) even though your employer has work that you could perform but for the order.

Although employers may limit employees’ business travel, restricting employees’ off-duty conduct is an entirely different matter and, in fact, prohibited by New York law. Thus, employees’ voluntary travel to restricted states will pose new issues for employers.

New Jersey published guidance available here. Connecticut published guidance available here. Pennsylvania published guidance available here. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Considerations for Travelers available here.

The restricted states list will continue to change as infection rates rise and fall. If you have any questions about your company’s obligations under this new requirement, the federal sick leave law, or any of the other laws or executive orders, do not hesitate to contact your Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr labor and employment attorney. Also, please consult our page dedicated to the wide range of issues facing businesses amid the COVID-19 emergency, here.