Recent changes to the state’s travel quarantine rules should make it easy for employers to deal with employees who travel for business or vacation. Changes to the state’s travel advisory now allow employees to provide a negative test result to return to work after traveling to a state on Connecticut’s travel advisory list (“affected state”), in lieu of self-quarantining for 14 days. The changes are the result of back-to-back Executive Orders issued last week by Governor Lamont.
Last week, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 9B, amending the rules for visitors to Connecticut and residents returning home from a trip to an affected state. The previous Order required all such individuals to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Connecticut, with limited exemptions for essential workers traveling for work and those “unable to quarantine” in rare circumstances (such as attending a funeral or an end of life visit to a relative). The new Order provides a “testing alternative” to all affected travelers, which allows them to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result in the 72 hours prior to arrival in Connecticut to avoid the self-quarantine requirement.
Governor Lamont further issued Executive Order 9C, making technical corrections to 9B and clarifying that affected travelers may take a COVID-19 test either in the 72 hours prior to arrival in Connecticut OR once in Connecticut in order to avoid the quarantine requirement. Only “nucleic acid COVID-19 tests” will satisfy the testing requirement — rapid antigen tests and anti-body tests will not apply. Affected travelers must also still quarantine until they receive a negative test result, regardless of where the test is taken.
As a practical matter, this means that an employee who travels to Alabama for vacation could return to Connecticut and then take a COVID-19 test to avoid a mandatory 14 day quarantine. Once the employee tests negative, the employee can return to work immediately, avoiding further quarantine.
The state provides updated FAQs on its travel advisory website specifically advising on the process. “An Affected Traveler is exempt from the self-quarantine requirement if the Affected Traveler (1) has had a test for COVID-19 in the seventy-two (72) hours prior to arrival in Connecticut or at any time following arrival in Connecticut, (2) the result of such COVID-19 test is negative, and (3) he or she has provided written proof of such negative test result to the Commissioner via email to DPH.COVID-Travel@ct.gov or via facsimile to (860) 326-0529. If a test was obtained in the seventy-two (72) hours prior to arrival in Connecticut, or following arrival in Connecticut, and such Affected Traveler has not yet received his or her test results, such traveler shall remain in self-quarantine in Connecticut until a negative test result is submitted to the Commissioner. If the test result is positive and the traveler is asymptomatic, he or she shall self-isolate for ten (10) days from the date of the test; if symptomatic, he or she should seek medical assistance. Travelers who test positive for COVID-19 prior to traveling to Connecticut should delay such travel and consult with a medical professional.”
Affected travelers must also continue to comply with the state’s requirement to fill out a travel health form upon returning from an affected state — the state will issue fines of up to $1,000 to individuals that fail to complete this form.
Employers should be aware of these amendments to Connecticut’s travel advisory rules and revise their policies relating to employee travel and leave accordingly. Based on these changes, employers may consider the legal ramifications of requiring employees who choose to travel to an affected state for vacation to obtain COVID-19 tests, rather than using leave for the purpose of a self-quarantine. Employers should still avoid unnecessary business travel to hotspots, and should continue to monitor Governor Lamont’s executive orders and the list of states on the travel advisory, which are frequently updated.