COVID-19 Tri-State Area

Tri-State Announcements & Updates

New York

April 1, 2021 Update:

As of April 1st, domestic travelers are no longer required to quarantine after entering New York from another U.S. State or U.S. Territory. While no longer required, the NYS Department of Health still recommends quarantine after domestic travel as an added precaution. Mandatory quarantine remains in effect for international travelers. All travelers must continue to fill out the Traveler Health Form. Individuals should continue strict adherence to all safety guidelines to stop the spread—wearing masks, socially distancing and avoiding gatherings.

March 30, 2021 Update:

New York Department of Labor Issues Guidance on Paid Leave for COVID-19 Vaccinations 

On March 12, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed a new law that grants paid leave to employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Under the statute, employees may take up to four hours of paid time off per vaccine injection however, the new law is silent on several key issues, which has left employers with numerous unanswered questions. Following the enactment of the law, the New York Department of Labor (NYDOL) issued guidance in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) addressing some of these issues. Specifically, NYDOL provides the following information regarding documentation, notice, retroactivity, amount of leave, employer coverage, reason for leave, rate of pay and collective bargaining agreements:

  • Documentation: The law does not prohibit employers from requesting proof of vaccination. However, employers are encouraged to consider applicable confidentiality requirements prior to requesting such documentation.
  • Notice: The law does not prevent an employer from requiring an employee to provide notice prior to taking leave to get vaccinated.
  • Retroactivity: The law does not create a retroactive entitlement to leave. This means that any employees who were already vaccinated as of March 12, 2021 are not entitled to additional paid leave under this law.
  • Amount of Leave: The maximum number of hours to which an employee is entitled under this law depends on the number of required COVID-19 vaccine injections. Employees may take of four hours of leave per vaccine injection. This means, for example, that if a vaccine requires two injections, the employee is entitled to two periods of paid leave of up to four hours each.
  • Employer Coverage: Both public and private employers are covered.
  • Reason for Leave: An employee may only take leave under this law for his or her own vaccine injection, not for vaccination of a relative.
  • Rate of Pay: The law requires employees to be paid at their regular rate of pay.
  • Collective Bargaining Agreements: The rights afforded under this law may be waived in a collective bargaining agreement that specifically references Labor Law §196-c.

While the FAQs provide some clarity on the leave entitlement, several questions still remain unanswered. For example, NYDOL does not provide a definition as to what constitutes a “sufficient period of time” to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Further, NYDOL does not address whether an employee may take leave under this law due to symptoms or side effects associated with a vaccine injection.

March 15, 2021 Update:

COVID-19 Vaccine Paid Leave

On March 1, 2021, the New York State Senate followed in the footsteps of the State Assembly by unanimously voting to grant both private and public employees up to four hours of paid leave to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This measure was supported by Governor Cuomo who signed the bill into law on March 12, 2021. Employers and employees alike should note that this law is effective immediately and will remain so until December 31, 2022.

Click here for more information.

March 11, 2021 Update:

Domestic Travel Restrictions

Domestic travel restrictions have been lifted for New York residents. Travelers are no longer required to quarantine after entering New York from any U.S. State or U.S. Territory starting April 1st.

While no longer required, the NYS Department of Health still recommends quarantine after domestic travel as an added precaution. Mandatory quarantine remains in effect for international travelers. All travelers must continue to fill out the Traveler Health Form. Individuals should continue strict adherence to all safety guidelines to stop the spread – wearing masks, socially distancing and avoiding gatherings.

“New Yorkers have shown strength and perseverance throughout this entire pandemic, and it shows through the numbers that continue to decrease every day,” Governor Cuomo said. “As we work to build our vaccination infrastructure even further and get more shots in arms, we’re making significant progress in winning the footrace between the infection rate and the vaccination rate, allowing us to open new sectors of our economy and start our transition to a new normal in a post-pandemic world. As part of that transition, quarantine for domestic travelers is no longer required, but it is still being advised as an added precaution. This is great news, but it is not an all-clear for New Yorkers to let their guard down. To beat this virus once and for all we all must continue doing what we know works to stop the spread, including wearing masks, washing our hands and practicing social distancing.”

Regardless of quarantine status, all individuals exposed to COVID-19 or returning from travel must:

  • Continue daily symptom monitoring through Day 14;
  • Continue strict adherence to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, including hand hygiene and the use of face coverings, through Day 14 (even if fully vaccinated);
  • Must immediately self-isolate if any symptoms develop and contact the local public health authority or their healthcare provider to report this change in clinical status and determine if they should seek testing.
March 7, 2021 Update:

New York Reopening Update

  • On March 19, restaurants outside New York City, which have been restricted at 50% of indoor capacity, can expand to 75% capacity. Currently, New York City is still restricted at 50%.
  • All the same safety protocols will remain in effect.
  • Between now and March 19, if the numbers change then the state reserves the right to readjust the restrictions.
March 5, 2021 Update:

New York State Announces New COVID-19 Travel Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that domestic travelers to New York State who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will no longer be required to quarantine or be tested upon arrival in the 90 days following their full vaccination. The New York State COVID-19 Travel Advisory (which has not yet been updated to reflect the Governor’s announcement) currently requires travelers from noncontiguous states and territories to quarantine for ten days upon arrival, or obtain two negative tests within the time period provided in the travel advisory.

This change reflects current CDC recommendations following COVID-19 exposure (as opposed to travel) which no longer advise quarantine for those who: (1) are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 (i.e., at least two weeks have passed from the second dose of a two-dose vaccine, or from receipt of a single-dose vaccine), (2) received their final dose within the previous three months, and (3) remain asymptomatic.

Cuomo also stated that international travelers arriving in New York must continue to follow CDC travel and quarantine guidance, whether or not they are vaccinated. Currently, the CDC requires that all international travelers produce a negative COVID-19 test within three days prior to departure, and recommends that all travelers quarantine for at least ten days upon arrival in the United States, or seven days if they test negative 3-5 days after arrival. New York State requires international travelers from CDC Level 2 or higher countries quarantine for ten days or produce two negative tests.

March 3, 2021 Update:

New York, one of the first states in the U.S. to implement travel restrictions on domestic visitors last spring, took another step toward relaxing its COVID-19 policies as of Wednesday, March 3rd,  by lifting the quarantine and COVID-19 testing restrictions on people who have been vaccinated within 90 days of their second inoculation.

“Domestic travelers are no longer required to quarantine or test out within 90 days of full vaccination,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a COVID-19 briefing. Beyond the 90 days, travelers would still have to quarantine and test out. 

International travelers must continue to quarantine for 10 days, he said. People who have not been vaccinated or who have not completed their shots must also continue to quarantine under the existing guidelines. 

People arriving in the U.S. from overseas by air must also present a negative coronavirus test taken within three days of travel, a rule introduced shortly after President Biden took office in January.

January 22, 2021 Update:

10 Months After Enacting the COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law, New York Issues Guidance Impacting a Majority of its Employers

On January 20, 2021, approximately 10 months after the state of New York enacted the NY COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law, the New York Department of Labor (NY DOL) issued new guidance that seeks to clarify the benefits available to all employees (except those in the healthcare industry, who were issued separate but similar guidance in June 2020) under the NY COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law (the Law).

As previously discussed, the Law requires employers to provide up to 14 days of paid sick leave (depending on the size of the employer, net income of the employer, and whether it is a private or public employer) for employees subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by an authorized governmental entity (a “COVID-19 Order”). The state’s new guidance purports to “supplement” earlier state guidance and addresses the following questions:

May an employee who returns to work following a period of quarantine or isolation, who subsequently tests positive for COVID-19, access paid sick benefits under the Law?

Yes. The employee is automatically “deemed” to be subject to a mandatory order of isolation and is entitled, once again, to sick leave under the Law for this “second” period of isolation, and a subsequent “third” period of isolation. The employee must, however, submit documentation from a medical provider or testing facility confirming the positive COVID-19 results.

May an employee who continues to test positive for COVID-19 after the conclusion of a period of quarantine or isolation continue to access paid sick benefits under the Law?

Yes. If after the conclusion of the period of quarantine or isolation an employee continues to test positive for COVID-19, the employee shall be automatically “deemed” to be subject to a second COVID-19 Order and is entitled, once again, to sick leave under the Law for this “second” period of isolation, and a subsequent “third” period of isolation. The employee must, however, submit documentation from a medical provider or testing facility confirming the positive COVID-19 results.

May an employee not subject to a COVID-19 Order who is required to remain out of work due to exposure or potential exposure to COVID-19, irrespective of whether the exposure occurred at the workplace, access paid sick benefits under the NY COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law?

Yes. If an employer “mandates” an employee, who is not otherwise subject to a COVID-19 Order, to remain out of work due to such exposure or potential exposure to COVID-19, the NY DOL is requiring employers to pay the employee at the employee’s regular rate of pay until (a) the employer permits the employee to return to work, or (b) the employee becomes subject to a COVID-19 Order. If the employee becomes subject to such an Order, the NY DOL is requiring employers then to provide the employee with sick leave under the Law. It is unclear whether the paid gap period between the start of the employer-mandated quarantine, and either the return to work or receipt of a COVID-19 Order, refers to the New York State Paid Sick Leave Law (or local equivalent), which allows employees to utilize sick time beginning January 1, 2021, or leave that is in addition to any employer-provided sick leave benefits.

Is there a limit on how many times an employee can access paid sick benefits under the NY COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law?

Under the guidance, employees can access paid sick benefits under the Law for no more than three COVID-19 Orders. The second and third COVID-19 Orders must be based on a positive COVID-19 test in accordance with the guidance.

Implications for Employers

Before the guidance, there was ambiguity about whether an employee could receive multiple periods of sick leave under the Law. According to the guidance, it appears that the NY DOL has taken the policy position that employees may qualify for paid leave under the Law for up to three COVID-19 Orders.

The guidance may be subject to challenge, however, based on the plausible argument that it is not authorized by underlying legislation and therefore exceeds the power of the NY DOL. The guidance requires employers to pay employees who have been exposed or potentially exposed to COVID-19 to remain out of work in the absence of a COVID-19 Order. The statutory text of the Law does not contain any provision requiring employers to pay employees for this period between the employer’s direction to remain out of work (due, of course, to state safety mandates) and either the permission to return to work or the employee’s becoming subject to a COVID-19 Order. Accordingly, it is unclear whether the NY DOL will seek to enforce this aspect of the Law, or whether it is justified as an implied invocation of the New York State Sick Leave Law.

All New York employers are encouraged to consult counsel regarding employer obligations to comply with the NY DOL’s guidance as well as any formal regulations issued concerning COVID-19 measures in the workplace by applicable state agencies. Rapidly changing New York employment laws responding to the COVID-19 pandemic require continual monitoring and reassessment of employer compliance.

New York’s Travel Advisory 2.0: Frequently Asked Questions

New York’s travel advisory has been substantially altered during the past two weeks. On October 31, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 205.2, which revised the New York State Travel Advisory for domestic travel. On November 3, the New York State Department of Health issued an updated guidance document (the November 3 Guidance). The changes made by Executive Order 205.2 and the November 3 Guidance have generated confusion. Below, we discuss some frequently asked questions we have received about these updates.

Which states and countries does the travel advisory apply to?

The travel advisory applies to all states except those bordering New York: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont. It also applies to travelers coming to New York from any country with a CDC Level 2 or Level 3 designation. The full list of Level 2 and Level 3 countries may be found here.

What does the travel advisory require?

Before, people coming to New York from a designated state or country would have to quarantine for 14 days without the ability to “test out” of quarantine. Executive Order 202.52 and the November 3 Guidance changed this rule. Now, travelers coming to New York must receive a COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to arriving in New York. Further, travelers coming to New York must quarantine for 14 days and may test out of the 14-day quarantine if they do the following:

  1. Quarantine for at least three days;
  2. On the fourth day, seek a COVID-19 test; and
  3. Receive a second negative test result.

A traveler may exit quarantine upon receiving the second negative test result.

Does the 24-hour exemption still apply?

Yes. Travelers coming to New York after being in a non-continuous state or a designated country for less than 24 hours do not have to quarantine. Such travelers must still fill out the traveler health form upon return and receive testing for COVID-19 on their fourth day in New York.

How does the November 3 Guidance impact essential workers?

The short-term, medium-term, and long-term exceptions for essential workers continue. The short-term and medium-term exceptions remain the same from the prior guidance.

There are changes to the long-term exception. For essential workers traveling to New York for a period of greater than 36 hours—including New Yorkers who traveled out of state—essential workers must be tested for COVID-19 on the fourth day after arriving in New York. During that interim period, such employees may continue to work.

There are exceptions. Nursing home and adult care facility staff must receive a negative COVID-19 test before returning to work. Further, teachers, school employees, and child-care workers cannot use the long-term essential worker exemption. If such employees want to “test out” of their 14-day quarantine, they must follow the testing protocol described above.

May international travelers qualify as essential workers?

Yes. The November 3 Guidance is explicit: international travelers may qualify as essential workers.

Who is considered an essential worker?

The November 3 Guidance defines three types of essential workers:

1. Any individual employed by an entity included on the Empire State Development (ESD) Essential Business list;

2. Any individual who meets the COVID-19 testing criteria, pursuant to their status as either an individual who is employed as a health care worker, first responder, or in any position within a nursing home, long-term care facility, or other congregate care setting, or an individual who is employed as an essential employee who directly interacts with the public while working, pursuant to DOH Protocol for COVID-19 Testing, issued May 31, 2020; or

3. Any other worker deemed such by the Commissioner of Health.

What are the consequences for non-compliance?

If an individual does not follow the proper testing protocols described above to opt-out of the quarantine, the individual must quarantine for 14 days.

If an individual violates a mandatory quarantine order from the Department of Health and/or the applicable local health department, the individual may face a civil penalty of up to $10,000 or imprisonment of up to 15 days.

Who must fill out the traveler health form?

All individuals coming to New York from any non-contiguous state must fill out the traveler health form, which may be found at https://forms.ny.gov/s3/Welcome-to-New-York-State-Traveler-Health-Form. This includes New York residents who are returning to the state after being in a designated state for less than 24 hours.

Are there any other exemptions to the travel advisory?

Yes. The Department of Health may grant specific exemptions “based upon extraordinary circumstances, which do not warrant quarantine” but may be in the interest of public health.

New Jersey

March 23, 2021 Update:

New Jersey issues guidance confirming employers can mandate COVID-19 vaccines

New Jersey recently confirmed that employers can mandate their employees be vaccinated for COVID-19. This move aligns New Jersey with federal guidance previously issued by the EEOC.

Consistent with federal guidance from the EEOC, the New Jersey guidance provides that employers may require employees to be vaccinated to be present on the worksite, however, employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees who: (i) have a disability, (ii) have been advised not to get the vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding, or (iii) who will not get the vaccine due to sincerely held religious beliefs. Note, however, that if no reasonable accommodation can be provided, an employer can enforce its policy of excluding unvaccinated employees from the workplace.

Importantly, the guidance also confirms that employers may request medical documentation to confirm a disability or medical condition. Employers should be sure to follow all state and federal requirements in requesting such information and must treat the information as confidential.

While this guidance paves the way for New Jersey employers to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for their workforce, there are several considerations before implementing such a policy.

March 8, 2021 Update:

New Jersey Travel Restrictions

New Jersey strongly discourages all non-essential interstate travel at this time. At this time, individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should continue to follow the State’s travel advisory.

Travelers and residents returning from any U.S. state or territory beyond the immediate region (New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) should self-quarantine at their home, hotel, or other temporary lodging following recommendations from the CDC:

  • If travel is unavoidable, travelers should consider getting tested with a viral test (not an antibody test) 1-3 days before the trip and again 3-5 days after the trip.
  • If travelers test positive, they should self-isolate for at least 10 days and should postpone travel during that time.
  • If travelers test negative, they should quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
  • If testing is not available (or if the results are delayed), travelers should quarantine for 10 days after travel.

The advisory is no longer specific to certain states. Because of the high number of case counts across all states, there is an increased risk of spread of COVID-19 upon return from any travel.

The self-quarantine is voluntary, but compliance is expected. Travelers arriving from areas with increasing COVID-19 cases may wish to postpone their travel to the region if they are unwilling or unable to follow the quarantine advisory.

Travelers and those residents who are returning from states and territories beyond the immediate region should quarantine at their home, or a hotel or other temporary lodging. Individuals should leave the place of quarantine only to seek medical care/treatment or to obtain food and other essential items.

Please note that this advisory does not apply to individuals:

  • Who are returning to New Jersey after traveling outside of the state for less than 24 hours or those traveling to New Jersey for less than 24 hours – Even where travel is less than 24 hours, however, individuals are still discouraged from engaging in non-essential travel to other states to the extent possible.
  • Who are in transit through the state to another destination, provided that the time spent in the state is only the amount of time necessary to complete the transit, make use of travel services, such as a highway rest stop, or make necessary travel connections.

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 3 months and recovered do not need to quarantine or get tested again during that three-month period as long as they do not develop new symptoms. If new symptoms develop after travel, people should follow instructions for what to do if you’re sick.

February 5, 2021 Update:

Reopening rules for bars and restaurants

Food or beverage establishments may open, including restaurants, bars, cafeterias, and food courts, as well as all holders of a liquor license with retail consumption privileges.

Governor Murphy increased indoor dining capacity to 35% amid statewide case totals and hospitalizations trending downward

Establishments must follow appropriate mitigation requirements detailed in the Department of Health’s Protocols for Outdoor DiningExecutive Order No. 157Executive Order No. 183, the Department of Health’s Health and Safety Standards for Indoor DiningExecutive Order No. 192, and Executive Order No. 194, which are summarized below.

Note: The statewide requirement that all bars and restaurants end indoor service as of 10 p.m. has been lifted. However, municipalities or counties may continue to regulate the hours of operation of in-person restaurant service after 8 p.m.

April 4, 2020 Update:

Paid Sick Leave & Family Leave Insurance Benefits

  • Amended to permit employers to provide sick leave when an employee is unable to work because:
    • There is a state of emergency or threat of health to others by the presence of an employee in the community (paid sick leave).
    • The same circumstance as above but determination relates to an employee’s family member in need of care by the employee (paid sick leave & FLI).
    • The employee is caring for a family member who is in isolation or quarantine because of “suspected exposure to a communicable disease” (paid sick leave & FLI).
    • The employee is isolated or quarantined (paid sick leave).
    • The employee’s workplace or child’s daycare or school is closed because of a state of emergency (paid sick leave).
April 4, 2020 Update:

Family Leave Act

  • FMLA is amended to expand the definition of “serious health condition” during a state of emergency.
  • This will apply to employers with 30+ employees.
  • It prohibits an employer from denying family leave to any employee during an epidemic of a communicable disease or a known suspected exposure to such a disease.
    • This will apply to care for a family member who needs to be quarantined; or because the family member’s place of care is closed due to a state of emergency.
April 4, 2020 Update:

Temporary Disability Insurance

  • The law has been modified to waive the seven-day waiting period for benefits during a state of emergency if the disability is for illness caused by an epidemic of a communicable disease, a known or suspected exposure to the disease, or in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease.
  • Employers with a private disability plan instead of a New Jersey state plan are required to provide these benefits as well.

Connecticut

March, 4, 2021 Update:

Governor Lamont Announces Plans To Ease Some COVID-19 Restrictions in Connecticut

Governor Ned Lamont has announced that in the coming days he plans to revise some requirements that were implemented in Connecticut in the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly when it comes to those relating to capacity levels and travel restrictions.

The governor stressed that while some of these restrictions are being eased, all of the protocols that relate to face coverings, social distancing, and cleaning measures are being maintained, and people and businesses are urged to continue adhering to those health and safety procedures.

Protocols that will remain in effect until further notice include:

  • Face coverings and masks continue to be required
  • Bars that only serve beverages continue to remain closed
  • 11PM closing time remains in place for events at venues, restaurants, and entertainment
  • Indoor theaters continue to have a 50% capacity
  • Large event venues (e.g. stadiums) to open in April

The protocols that will be revised in the coming days include:

Beginning Friday, March 19, 2021

  • All capacity limits will be eliminated for the following businesses, while face coverings, social distancing, and other cleaning and disinfecting protocols will continue to be required:
    • Restaurants (8-person table capacity and 11PM required closing time for dining rooms continues)
    • Retail
    • Libraries
    • Personal services
    • Indoor recreation (excludes theaters, which will continue to have a 50% capacity)
    • Gyms/fitness centers
    • Museums, aquariums, and zoos
    • Offices
    • Houses of worship
  • Gathering sizes will be revised to the following amounts:
    • Social and recreational gatherings at private residence – 25 indoors/100 outdoors
    • Social and recreational gatherings at commercial venues – 100 indoors/200 outdoors
  • All sports will be allowed to practice and compete, and all sports tournaments will be allowed, subject to Department of Public Health guidance
  • Connecticut’s travel advisory will be modified from a requirement to recommended guidance

Beginning Monday, March 29, 2021

  • Capacity limits on early childhood classes will increase from 16 to 20

Beginning Friday, April 2, 2021

    • Outdoor amusement parks can open
    • Outdoor event venues can increase to a 50% capacity, capped at 10,000 people
    • Indoor stadiums can open at 10% capacity
    • Summer camps and summer festivals are advised to begin the planning stages to open for the upcoming season