COVID-19 Travel Quarantine Order and FFCRA Paid Leave: August 1, 2020

August 7, 2020Massachusetts

On July 24, 2020, Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, issued an Order requiring travelers, with some exceptions, to engage in a mandatory 14-day quarantine if they are coming to Massachusetts from states identified as “High Risk” by the Department of Public Health.  As of this week, 43 states are identified as High Risk.  States identified as “Low Risk” are as follows:  Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Hawaii.  The risk assessment of states is fluid and dependent upon data.  For example, Rhode Island became a High Risk state very recently.

The Order to quarantine applies to nonresidents and Massachusetts residents who spend “any amount of time” in a High Risk state.

The menu of exceptions to the Order to quarantine is narrow and consists of the following:

  • Travelling to Lower-risk States: The Order to quarantine only applies to High Risk states.
  • 72-hour Testing Rule: You can avoid the quarantine if you can produce, upon request, proof of a negative test result for COVID-19 from a test administered on a sample taken no longer than 72 hours before your arrival in Massachusetts.
  • Transitory travel: People can pass through Massachusetts for necessary connections to airline, bus or train travel services. 
  • Persons Commuting for Work or School: People can commute to a regularly fixed place outside of Massachusetts to attend school or work.   
  • Patients Seeking or Receiving Medical Treatment:  Patients can travel to Massachusetts to seek or receive specialized medical care from a physician located in the Commonwealth.
  • Military Personnel: Any person who is required to travel to Massachusetts at the order or directive of a Federal or State military authority is exempt. 
  • Workers Providing Critical Infrastructure Services: Workers who enter Massachusetts to perform critical infrastructure functions are similarly exempt.

The Order encourages Massachusetts employers to ban out-of-state business travel to a High Risk state.  The Order also encourages Massachusetts employers to “strongly discourage” employee personal travel to High Risk states. The Order is silent in regard to what an employer could or could not do to strongly discourage employees from personal travel to a high risk state. 

A local or state order of quarantine can trigger an employee’s need and right to access paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act  if they are unable to work remotely.

A link to the Governor’s Order and the enumerated exceptions is here:
https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order

A link to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health concerning the Travel Order is here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order

A link to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s’ listing of low risk states is here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order#lower-risk-states-