For several months, employees who were exposed to or in “close contact” with a COVID-19 case were required to quarantine/isolate from the workplace for 14 days. As the vaccine’s availability increases and more workers become fully vaccinated, guidance relating to these quarantine/isolation protocols will loosen.
The latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that fully vaccinated people who meet certain criteria no longer need to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19. A person who is exposed to COVID-19 does not need to quarantine if:
- The person is fully vaccinated (“fully vaccinated” means it has been at least 2 weeks since the person received the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) or the single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson); and
- The person has no symptoms since the exposure to COVID-19.
The CDC guidance also states that, for now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:
- Take precautions in public, like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing.
- Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
- Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households.
- Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings.
- Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
- Follow guidance issued by individual employers.
- Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations.
Notably, the CDC provides discretion to employers in mandating their workplace protocols and procedures. This may prove important as government authorities loosen or even lift COVID-19 restrictions for the general public. Further, many anticipate that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will issue updated guidance or regulations that will require employers nationwide to implement stricter requirements, such as continuing to require face coverings in the workplace and implementing a COVID-19 prevention program. California employers will recognize these requirements as California OSHA enacted its own “COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards” in November 2020.
As the guidance and regulations for employers continue to evolve and more guidance relating to vaccines are being issued, employers should closely review and monitor their local and state COVID-19 regulations before making any changes to their current COVID-19 policies or protocols. Contact a Stokes Wagner attorney if you have any questions.
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THIS DOCUMENT PROVIDES A GENERAL SUMMARY AND IS FOR INFORMATIONAL/EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO BE COMPREHENSIVE, NOR DOES IT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. PLEASE CONSULT WITH COUNSEL BEFORE TAKING OR REFRAINING FROM TAKING ANY ACTION.