The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) released updated COVID-19 guidelines on August 11, 2022. While the CDC is currently in the process of updating its “Workplaces and Businesses” webpage to align its updated guidance, at this juncture, based on the updated guidelines, employers can revise their COVID-19 guidelines to address the following areas:
- Employee Quarantine – Per the updated CDC guidance, employees who have been in close in close contact with someone with COVID-19 no longer need to quarantine (previously, only those employees who were “up to date” on their vaccinations were exempt from quarantine.) Instead, it is recommended that if an individual was exposed to COVID-19, they should wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day 5. Accordingly, when there is a COVID-19 infection in the building, employers do not need to check the vaccination status of employees who have been in close contact with the positive individual to determine whether quarantine of other employees is necessary. However, employees who are determined to be “close contacts” should wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.
- Social Distancing – Per the updated CDC guidance, social distancing is no longer recommended for individuals, regardless of vaccination status. However, the CDC does provide that persons at high risk for severe illness can consider avoiding crowded areas and minimizing direct physical contact, especially in settings where there is high risk for exposure. Accordingly, employers do not need to enforce social distancing in communal areas, such as break rooms.
- Screening – Per the updated CDC guidance, in most setting it is no longer necessary to screen asymptomatic, healthy individuals for potential COVID-19. Therefore, employers can cease to engage in daily COVID-19 screenings for employees.
Employers should be aware that the NYS HERO Act (which currently mandates that employers have, but do not need to implement, an Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan) and the NYS Paid COVID-19 Leave law remain in effect.
Employers should review and if necessary, revise their policies regarding quarantine, isolation and masking in their workplaces in light of the updated guidance. Should you need assistance in revising your COVID-19 policies, please contact Ali Law Group for help regarding same.