On January 4, 2022, the New York State Department of Health (“DOH”) issued Interim Updated Isolation & Quarantine Guidance amending the quarantine and isolation periods for individuals who are symptomatic, test positive, or are exposed to COVID-19. The DOH has expressly stated that this new guidance is interim guidance and additional requirements may be added. Nevertheless, employers should immediately review their current COVID-19 policies and procedures and make all necessary changes to ensure they reflect this new guidance.

Symptomatic/Positive Test Result

For isolation and quarantine of the general population (regardless of vaccination status), individuals are directed to follow the CDC recommendations as follows:
Isolate for 5 days, where day 0 is the day of symptom onset or (if asymptomatic) the day of collection of the first positive specimen.
If asymptomatic at the end of 5 days or if symptoms are resolving, isolation ends and the individual should wear a well-fitting mask while around others for an additional 5 days.
Individuals who are moderately-severely immunocompromised should continue to follow standard (i.e., not shortened) Isolation Guidance.
Individuals who are unable to wear a well-fitting mask for 5 days after a 5-day isolation should also follow standard (i.e., not shortened) Isolation Guidance.

COVID-19 Exposure

If an individual is exposed to COVID-19, the quarantine requirement for that individual is dependent upon vaccination status as follows, where day 0 is the last date of exposure:

The DOH also advises that exposed individuals test at day 5 with either a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT, e.g., PCR) or antigen test. Finally, if symptoms appear, exposed individuals should quarantine and seek testing. In this situation, DOH directs that “quarantine would end when the test is negative. If testing is not done, isolate according to the guidance above.” We anticipate that further guidance will be provided regarding this last point, as it is sometimes the case that individuals who test positive for COVID-19 may continue to test positive for an extended period of time.

This interim guidance does not currently apply to schools or congregate settings, including healthcare congregate settings. As additional guidance is likely to be promulgated, employers must remain aware of their obligations and confirm that their policies and procedures remain compliant with any updated NYS, local and DOH guidance regarding COVID-19