On January 22, 2022, New York City updated its quarantine and isolation guidance to align with the CDC’s recent shortening of both (i) the recommended timeframe for isolation following a COVID-19 diagnosis for individuals regardless of vaccination status, and (ii) the recommended quarantine period following a COVID-19 exposure for vaccinated individuals. New York State has also updated its guidelines to reflect these changes.  It is noted that individuals who work in certain settings (such as schools or healthcare or congregate care settings) may be subject to different requirements.

As is the case with the updated CDC guidance, the revised State and City guidance replaces prior references to “fully vaccinated” status with an “up to date” vaccine criteria which is defined as an individual who has received (1) a two-dose (e.g., Pfizer or Moderna) or one-dose (e.g., Johnson & Johnson) primary vaccine, (2) a third dose if they have a weakened immune system and are advised and eligible to receive one, and/or (3) a booster shot if they are eligible to receive one.

Updated Isolation Requirements

The updated New York State and City guidance requires all individuals – regardless of vaccination status – who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have COVID-19 symptoms to isolate for at least five (5) days from the later of when symptoms began or from their positive test date. Such individuals may end isolation after the fifth day if they remain asymptomatic during that time or if their symptoms have improved and they have not had a fever in the past 24 hours without fever-reducing medicine.  Individuals must continue isolating beyond the five day period if their symptoms do not improve or if they have had a fever in the past 24 hours. Upon ending isolation, individuals must wear a mask around others for 10 days from the date their symptoms began or from their positive test date (again, whichever is later).

Updated Quarantine Requirements

The updated State and City guidance also modifies requirements for individuals who are a “close contact” to someone with COVID-19, which differ depending upon the exposed individual’s vaccination status.  Under the updated guidance, “close contact” is defined as having been within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (increased in NYC from a previous 10 minute exposure standard), beginning two days before the person with COVID-19’s symptoms began or, if they have no symptoms, two days before they tested positive. The New York City guidance notes that, generally, every individual living with someone who has COVID-19 will be considered a close contact.

Asymptomatic individuals who (1) are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines (as defined above) or (2) contracted COVID-19 in the last 90 days as confirmed by a positive viral test (measured from the date the individual first had COVID-19 symptoms or, if asymptomatic, the date of their first positive test) are not required to quarantine.  They should, however, get tested five days after the last close contact or right after developing COVID-19 symptoms (and begin isolation as per above if positive).  Such individuals must also mask for 10 days following the last date of close contact.

Individuals who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines (and who haven’t contracted COVID-19 in the last 90 days) are required to quarantine for five (5) days from the last date of contact.  Such individuals should get tested at least five days after their last close contact or right away if they develop COVID-19 symptoms (and begin isolation as per above if positive).  They are also required to mask for 10 days following the last date of close contact.

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Employers should note that the updated guidance will, in many cases, shorten the period of time during which covered employees may be eligible for emergency sick leave and/or New York Paid Family Leave/Disability benefits under New York State’s COVID-19 leave law, which requires employers to provide certain leave for employees subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19.

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