As Thanksgiving and what is traditionally the busiest holiday travel period approaches, COVID-19 numbers are rising, and state governments are doubling down on travel and quarantine restrictions.
The State of NH revised its travel guidance on November 12, 2020 changing the quarantine period for those NH residents who travel internationally (including to/from Canada); on a cruise ship; or domestically outside of the New England states for non-essential purposes. Essential travel includes travel for work, school, personal safety, medical care, care of others, parental shared custody, for medication, and brief trips for take-out food and groceries. Of course, the guidance continues to discourage business from allowing business-related travel for non-essential purposes.
A significant change includes the ability to shorten the required quarantine period from 14 days to 7 by obtaining a negative PCR or molecular test on the 7th day after return from out of state travel. Antigen or rapid tests are not accepted for this purpose.
The new guidance includes a comprehensive chart summarizing quarantine and isolation requirements in a number of scenarios. For example, an asymptomatic individual who has traveled outside of New England for non-essential purposes must quarantine for 14 days, unless the test above testing has occurred, in which case the quarantine period may be abbreviated. Certain essential employees in critical infrastructure industries defined at https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19 may be allowed to work during the quarantine period but must quarantine for all other purposes.
Massachusetts health officials on November 18, 2020 announced new quarantine guidance for those exposed to COVID-19. The updated guidance allows those who have been exposed to test out of quarantine after 10 days if they meet all of the following criteria:
- No COVID-19 symptoms;
- Negative molecular diagnostic test (PCR) on day eight of quarantine or later; and
- Continued self-monitoring for symptoms for the duration of the 14 day period.
Those who do not meet all of the above criteria must quarantine for 14 days from the date of first possible exposure.
The existing travel order which has been in place since August remains the same. All individuals entering Massachusetts must quarantine for 14 days from the date of arrival in Massachusetts unless the individual meets one of the criteria below set forth in the order which can be found at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order#lower-risk-states. The first of these exceptions is that individuals traveling from lower risk states do not need to quarantine. Of significance for these upcoming holidays, however, is the fact that the number of states which are considered low risk has dwindled to three: Vermont, Hawaii, and Massachusetts. The previously “safe” states of New Hampshire and Maine were added on November 20, 2020 to the non-lower risk states.
Individuals and businesses are advised to closely monitor information being disseminated by states and the CDC as the current COVID-19 situation is very fluid and changes could happen very quickly with regard to travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.
Individuals who do not comply with their obligation to quarantine are subject to a $500 fine per day.