On February 11, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) altered its prior COVID-19 quarantine guidelines with the release of revised public health recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals. Specifically, a vaccinated person with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 is no longer subject to a required quarantine per the CDC if that individual:
- Is fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine);
- Is within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series; and
- Has remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.
Importantly, the new CDC guidance requires all three criteria to be met to avoid quarantine and expressly excludes vaccinated inpatients and residents in healthcare settings.
Employers may wish to incorporate the new guidance into applicable workplace policies and procedures. Alternatively, as a precautionary measure, employers may elect to continue to require a period of quarantine even for those who have been vaccinated because (1) there is currently limited information as to how long protection from the vaccine lasts, and (2) transmission from vaccinated persons to others is still uncertain.
Regardless of vaccination status, the CDC advises that vaccinated persons should continue to follow its current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, following CDC travel guidance, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance, including guidance related to personal protective equipment use. Employers are well-advised to maintain workplace policies addressing these requirements in an effort to present a safe workplace.
Our team of labor and employment law attorneys continues to work closely with employers to draft/update COVID-19 health screening, containment and quarantine policies that are tailored to the employer’s practices and ensure compliance with applicable federal and state employment laws.