As the world wrestles with how to balance pressures to reopen the economy with mounting public safety concerns over COVID-19, certain jurisdictions have opted to close or restrict travel through their borders.
New York Tristate Area Travel Advisory
Within the United States, travelers to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut arriving from California, Texas and several other states will now be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The governors of the three northeast states issued a joint travel advisory requiring travelers from any state with a COVID-positive test rate higher than 10 percent on a seven-day rolling average (high-risk states) must quarantine for 14 days. As of July 9, 2020, those states are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Delaware, Kansas, and Oklahoma.1 Washington was originally included but was dropped from the list after further review of the data.2
This restriction does not apply to individuals who are merely passing through New York on a layover of less than 24 hours.3 While New Jersey and Connecticut have not yet developed enforcement mechanisms (as of July 2),4 New York may fine individuals up to $10,000 for violations.5 Additionally, New York employees forgo New York’s COVID-19 paid-sick-leave-law benefits if they engage in nonessential, non-work-related travel to the high-risk states.6
First responders and essential workers may be exempt from the New York quarantine but must follow certain restrictions depending on the duration of time in the state from which they are arriving and how long they intend to remain in the state.7 The details of those exceptions can be found in the guidance released by the New York Department of Health.8
Because the states subject to the order are determined based on a rolling seven-day average, the list of states subject to the quarantine may change daily. Those who plan to travel, or companies with employees who are traveling, should be sure to monitor the list.
Chicago Travel Advisory
Similarly, travelers to Chicago are required to quarantine for 14 days or for the duration of their trip, whichever is shorter, if they have spent more than 24 hours in certain states.9 This emergency travel order went into effect on July 6, and requires travelers coming from the following states to quarantine: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. Even if travelers do not have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested negative for COVID-19, they are still required to quarantine for the full period if they are arriving from one of the designated states.10
This list of states will be amended and updated every week on Tuesday, starting on July 14. A state will be added if it has a case rate greater than 15 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 resident population, per day, over a seven-day rolling average.11 The travel order will be effective for any new states on the following Friday (three days after the list is updated and announced).12 The order applies to individuals arriving in the City of Chicago, while they are in the city. Those who plan to travel, or companies with employees who are traveling, should monitor the list.
The order is in effect until further notice, and individuals found in violation are subject to fines of $100 to $500 per day, up to $7,000.13 Essential workers14 are not subject to the mandatory self-quarantine if they are traveling for work purposes in certain specific circumstances.15 There may be other exceptions to the travel order for travel for medical care and parental shared custody. The Commissioner of Health may additionally grant an exemption based upon an organization’s or business’ testing and other control policies or in extraordinary circumstances.
European Travel Restrictions
While states are attempting to shield themselves from other states’ residents, other countries are shielding themselves from the United States entirely. On June 30, 2020, the Council of the European Union released a recommendation encouraging member nations to begin to lift nonessential travel restrictions.16 Nations in the European Union are likely to begin opening their borders to residents of a number of countries listed in the recommendation, including China.17 However, the United States is not on the list of recommended countries. European officials have said the list of countries will be reviewed every two weeks, so countries may be added or removed from the list as their epidemiological situations fluctuate.18 The remaining travel restrictions continue not to apply to European citizens or residents who wish to return or to a number of groups, including healthcare workers, students and asylum seekers.19 A full list of exemptions can be found in Annex II of the Council Recommendation.20
Individuals and employers will want to keep a close eye on restrictions such as these as they move forward with plans to travel (or return from travel). As the United States continues to report record numbers of new cases, we expect to continue to see such measures extended or renewed with the goal of limiting the spread of COVID-19. How to handle such restrictions will be a fact-specific inquiry for any employer, and we encourage businesses to reach out to a member of the Sidley Team for specific guidance.
3 https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/EO205.pdf; https://portal.ct.gov/Office-of-the-Governor/News/Press-Releases/2020/06-2020/Governor-Lamont-Governor-Cuomo-and-Governor-Murphy-Announce-Joint-Incoming-Travel-Advisory
7 Connecticut and New Jersey have similar exemptions. In New Jersey, the travel advisory specifically exempts individuals traveling from affected states for business travel. Additional information on Connecticut exemptions can be found here: https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Covid-19-Knowledge-Base/Travel-In-or-Out-of-CT.
14 Defined as persons who work in critical infrastructure as designated by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, including any state, local, and federal officials and employees traveling in their official capacities on government business, including military service.
15 Such circumstances include these: a) if a nonresident of Chicago is traveling from a designated state to Chicago for the primary purpose of carrying out primary work in Chicago and needs to be physically present in Chicago to carry out that primary work, with identification issued by his/her employer, or (b) if a resident of Chicago is returning from a designated state and was in the designated state for the primary purpose of carrying out primary work in that state and needed to be physically present in that state to carry out that primary work, with identification issued by their employer. https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/covid-19/home/emergency-travel-order.html#:~:text=On%20Thursday%2C%20July%202%2C%20Chicago,last%20contact%20within%20the%20identified
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