February 10, 2022 Mask Mandates and Recent State Guidance Regarding Quarantine and Isolation
KEEPING YOU INFORMED…
Governor Hochul has announced that, effective today, the State has eliminated its mask requirement for indoor public places. Thus, businesses, local governments and counties now have the discretion to require mask wearing indoors. The mask mandates for P-12 schools, healthcare settings, adult care facilities regulated by the NYSDOH, correctional facilities and detention centers, homeless shelters and public transportation will remain in effect until at least February 21, 2022.
Governor Hochul also announced that she plans to assess the mask requirement for schools in early March.
QUARANTINE AND ISOLATION
On February 4, 2022, the NYS Department of Health (“NYSDOH”) again updated its guidance related to quarantine and isolation periods. This “Revised Updated Isolation & Quarantine Guidance,” and the charts that accompany it, differ from, and supersede, the NYSDOH’s January 14, 2022 Guidance. The most significant changes, described below, relate to: (1) extracurricular activities and childcare programs; (2) individuals with ongoing COVID-19 exposure; and (3) travel. The current rules regarding quarantine/isolation are summarized in the attached charts.
The State also published “Revised Updated Testing and Quarantine Supplemental Information to the ‘Interim NYSDOH Guidance for Classroom Instruction in P-12 Schools During the 2021-2022 Academic Year,’” which incorporates the current quarantine/isolation guidance for schools and removes the sections on “testing out of quarantine” and “quarantine for vaccinated people” because they have since been superseded.
Extracurricular Activities and Childcare Programs
The Guidance provides that exposed, fully vaccinated students, teachers and staff who are eligible for a booster, but have not yet received it, may participate in school-based extracurricular activities, but only if they do not involve students from other schools (e.g., competitive sports events with other schools) and only if “appropriate” COVID-19 mitigation measures are in place and “monitored by an adult.” Previous guidance had stated that people in this group could not participate in extracurricular, after-school, or community activities. With respect specifically to participation in extracurricular activities, the Guidance does not state what would be “appropriate” COVID-19 mitigation measures. However, in other places, the Guidance indicates that appropriate mitigation measures would be, for example, wearing well-fitting masks, social distancing, proper ventilation and proper hand hygiene.
Furthermore, the Guidance provides special rules related to “eligible childcare programs for school age children.” These programs include school-administered childcare programs and programs licensed or permitted by The State Office of Children and Family Services (“OCFS”) to care for school-age children (typically, programs such as early drop off, late stay, and after care) (“Childcare Programs”). The rules are:
• Exposed students, teachers, and staff who are not fully vaccinated cannot attend or work at Childcare Programs during the quarantine period unless Test-to-Stay has been adopted by the local health department and they are participating in the Test-to-Stay program.
• Exposed students, teachers, and staff who are not “up to date” on their vaccinations (i.e., fully vaccinated and, if eligible, boosted) can attend or work at Childcare Programs, regardless of whether they include students from multiple schools and regardless of whether they are located at the school or off-site, as long as appropriate COVID mitigation measures (e.g., well-fitting masks, social distance, ventilation, hand hygiene) are in place and are monitored by an adult. These individuals should participate in any Test-to-Stay Program that is in place and, if one is not, then these individuals are “strongly encouraged” day two or three (or the first school day after the exposure is identified) and day five.
Individuals with Ongoing COVID-19 Exposure
The Guidance provides that, consistent with the CDC’s “Ongoing COVID-19 Exposure FAQs,” an exposed person who cannot separate from someone in isolation (e.g., because the exposed person lives with, and cares for, the isolating individual) is to be treated as having “ongoing exposure,” meaning that they will be repeatedly exposed until the isolating person is no longer infectious.
The Guidance for people with “ongoing exposure” varies depending on their vaccination status. People with “ongoing exposure” who are “up to date” on their vaccinations must:
• get tested at least five days after their first exposure;
• get tested again at least five days after the end of the isolation for the person with COVID-19; and
• wear a well-fitting mask through the entire isolation period of the person with COVID-19 and for an additional 10 days thereafter.
People with “ongoing exposure” who are not “up to date” on their vaccinations (i.e., people who are not fully vaccinated or who are eligible for, but have not received, a booster) must:
• quarantine throughout the isolation period of the person with COVID-19 and for an additional five days thereafter, starting the day after the end of the isolation; and
• get tested at least five days after the end of the isolation for the person with COVID-19.
Exposed individuals who, in accordance with the current Guidance, do not have to quarantine “should” wear a well-fitting mask around others for any portion of their travel that falls with the 10-day period following their last close contact. Anyone who is unable to wear a mask “should” not travel during the 10-day period following close contact. Travelers “should” get tested at least five days following the last date of close contact, receive a negative test result before travel or additional travel (as applicable) and not travel if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
Exposed individuals who, in accordance with the current Guidance, are required to quarantine are not to travel during the five-day quarantine period and are advised to avoid travel for 10 days from the last close contact. Before traveling during days 6-10, these individuals must: 1) get tested at least five days after the last close contact with a COVID-19 infected person; 2) receive a negative test result; and 3) be symptom free for all five days of quarantine. If travel must occur during that 10-day period, the individual is advised to continue to wear a well-fitting mask when around others. If the individual is unable to get a test, the individual must delay travel until 10 days after the last close contact.
If you have any questions regarding indoor mask requirements, the Guidance, the interplay of NYSDOH guidance on NYS COVID-19 leaves, or best practices for communicating this information to your employees, please contact Adam Ross (email@example.com), Alyssa L. Zuckerman (firstname.lastname@example.org) or one of our other attorneys at 631-694-2300.
THIS MEMORANDUM AND THE ACCOMPANYING CHARTS ARE MEANT TO ASSIST IN GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE CURRENT LAW. THEY ARE NOT TO BE REGARDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THOSE WITH PARTICULAR QUESTIONS SHOULD SEEK THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL.
Attorney Advertising: Prior Results Do Not Guarantee A Similar Outcome.
© Lamb & Barnosky, LLP 2022
People With a Known Exposure to COVID-19 (i.e., a “Close Contact”), but No Symptoms
For purposes of this chart, the last day of exposure (i.e., the last close contact) is considered day “0.” The day after the exposure is considered day “1.”
To illustrate: if the last day of close contact occurs on February 1, the quarantine period ends on February 6 (assuming no symptoms; etc.) and the person may return to work on February 7. Likewise, this person would have to, among other things, avoid people who are immunocompromised until February 11 (i.e., day 10).
*Contact us for further guidance if the person is unable to test. People with “ongoing exposure” need to get tested at least five days after their first exposure and again at least 5 days after the end of isolation for the person with COVID-19.
** People with “ongoing exposure” must wear a well-fitting mask around other for 10 days after the infected person’s isolation period ends.
***Individuals who cannot wear a well-fitting mask must continue to quarantine for 10 days.
****See the NYSDOH’s February 4, 2022 Guidance.
People Who Test Positive for COVID-19 or Who Have COVID-19 Symptoms and are Awaiting Test Results
For purposes of this chart, the day that the person developed symptoms or, for an asymptomatic person, the day the positive test is taken is considered day “0.” The day after is considered day “1.”
To illustrate: if an asymptomatic person took a COVID-19 test on February 1 that had a positive result (regardless of when the result was reported to that person), the isolation would end on February 6 and the person may return to work on February 7. Likewise, this person would have to, among other things, avoid people who are immunocompromised until February 11 (i.e., day 10).
Notwithstanding the above, people who are hospitalized for COVID-19 or who are immunocompromised may need to isolate for up to 20 days and should consult with a healthcare provider regarding discontinuing isolation.
* Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation
**Individuals who cannot wear a well-fitting mask must continue to quarantine for 10 days.