New COVID-19 Quarantine Rules for Employees’ Return to Work
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recently changed its guidance on when those with, or exposed to, the COVID-19 virus can leave quarantine. For employers, this might result in a change of policy on when employees can return to the workplace.
Previous guidance disallowed individuals with COVID-19 symptoms who tested positive for COVID-19, or did not test at all, to return to work until after: (a) 10 days since symptoms first appeared; and (b) 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; and (c) other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving. Individuals who did not have symptoms but were in close contact with a person in their household with COVID-19 were required to quarantine for 14 days.
The CDC’s new guidance allows individuals to end quarantine in the following circumstances:
- Quarantine may discontinue without testing under the following conditions:
- At least ten (10) days have passed since close contact exposure AND
- No COVID-19 symptoms have developed and the person self-monitors for COVID-19 symptoms and wears a facial covering through day 14 since last close contact.
- Quarantine may discontinue with testing under the following conditions:
- At least seven (7) days have passed since close contact exposure, no COVID-19 symptoms have developed AND
- Results of a diagnostic specimen test (molecular or antigen) is negative that was collected no earlier than five (5) days since last close contact exposure AND
- The person self-monitors for COVID-19 symptoms and wears a facial covering through day 14 since last close contact.
This updated guidance stems from new research offering a better understanding of when transmission of COVID-19 is most likely to occur. With that said, the CDC is still recommending a quarantine period of 14 days as the best way to hedge against the risk of spreading the virus. The updated guidance is to be used as an alternative for local health agencies based on their circumstances and resources.