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Travel-related Quarantine Exception Guidance and Mask Mandate
In anticipation of the upcoming holiday season, in his seventy-second emergency order related to the COVID-19 pandemic issued this past weekend, Governor Sununu cited a new exception to the 14-day self-quarantine following travel outside of New England (VT, ME, NH, MA, RI, and CT). Travel within New England is not subject to this quarantine requirement.
In addition to the Universal Guidelines previously applicable to New Hampshire employers and employees, the Division of Public Health has issued updated guidance. The guidance provides a shorter, 7-day self-quarantine in addition to a negative molecular COVID-19 test (e.g., PCR-based test) for only those New Hampshire employees that are undergoing travel-related quarantine. The 14-day quarantine is still mandatory for any employee with a high-risk close contact to a known case of COVID-19. In effect, this exception will permit New Hampshire employees to travel outside of New England during the upcoming holiday season, and permit those who have had no high-risk contacts to quickly return to work following their trips.
Employers should note the guidance documents indicate that the choice to take the test is the employee’s choice. Additionally, a negative antigen test is not an acceptable test to eliminate the need to quarantine for the 14-day period.
Also, in an effort to keep New Hampshire businesses open throughout the approaching holiday season, yesterday Governor Sununu issued Emergency Order No. 74 and imposed a State-wide mask mandate. Beginning today, all persons, except those under age 5, must wear a mask or cloth face covering over both their noses and mouths at any time they are in public spaces* and are unable to consistently maintain a six-foot distance from persons outside their own household. This order will be in effect through January 15, 2021, unless otherwise extended.
The attorneys at Sulloway & Hollis are here to assist if you have questions regarding this new law. Our Labor and Employment Practice Group provides comprehensive counseling and legal services to employers across New England.
* “Public spaces” are those spaces, both public or private, open or accessible to the general public, including: waiting areas, outside patios, restaurants, retail business, sidewalks, elevators, and parking garages