On November 20, 2020 at 12:01 am, the Order of the Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Health for Mitigation Relating to Travel goes into effect. This Order sets out testing and quarantine requirements for all individuals returning from travel outside of the Commonwealth. The Department of Health issued an Order and FAQ’s.
THIS IS AN ORDER NOT A RECOMMENDATION
This Travel Order is not a recommendation. It is an Order. Failure to comply with the order can result in a fine ranging from $25-$300.
TESTING AND QUARANTINE REQUIREMENT
- Individuals traveling into Pennsylvania from out of state (or international location) must produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 Test that was taken within 72 hours prior to entering Pennsylvania.
- Residents returning to Pennsylvania after traveling out of the state must produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 Test that was taken within 72 hours prior to re-entering Pennsylvania.
Now, the Order explains that the test must be authorized by the FDA.
- Travelers Arrive in PA and are Waiting on Test Results
The Order explains that travelers who do not have test results at the time of entry into Pennsylvania must remain at their travel destination without contact with others outside their traveling party until they receive their test results. In other words, if an individual arrives in Pennsylvania and is waiting on the COVID-19 test results, they must quarantine where they arrive until the test results come in.
The FAQ elaborates on this by saying that individuals who are waiting on test results can interact only with individuals inside their travel group. Neither the FAQ nor the Order define “travel group.”
- If the test results come back positive, then that traveler must remain in isolation.
- If the test results come back negative, then they may continue with their intended activities.
- If a traveler does not get tested within 72 hours prior to entering the state, then they must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
- If a traveler is unable to get a test within 72 hours prior to entering the state, then they must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
The Order outlines exceptions from this Order. The following individuals are exempt from the testing and quarantine requirement:
- Individuals who travel routinely for work or other critical purpose.
- Individuals who travel to/from PA for medical reasons, including individuals providing comfort and support to the patient.
- Military personnel traveling to PA by order or directive from military authority.
- Individuals in transit through the Commonwealth.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR EMPLOYERS
The state provides no guidance for employers. In fact, the Department of Health explicitly states, “The Commonwealth does not dictate how businesses should implement the testing or quarantine requirement.” This is the same language the Department used when “guiding” employers when the travel restrictions was a mere recommendation.
The state goes on to say that, “employees should work with their employers about leave and pay issues related to COVID-19 quarantine absences.” Again, no guidance.
Employers with less than 500 employees should consult with counsel regarding the interplay between the quarantine and FFCRA paid leave. As explained in my previous blog, a qualifying reason for Paid Sick Leave is where an, “employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.”
Since this Travel Restriction is explicitly deemed an Order- not a recommendation- it follows that the 14 day quarantine or time spent waiting for a test result is deemed a “qualifying reason” for Paid Sick Leave under the FFCRA. It follows that if an employee has not exhausted their Paid Sick Leave, they are entitled to FFCRA Leave.
Employers should revisit their COVID policies and consult with counsel regarding how this Order affects their business operations.
ABOUT SUSIE CIRILLI
Susie M. Cirilli is a Labor & Employment attorney that assists clients with issues involving the ADA, FMLA, and Title VII claims. Susie litigates on matters related to hostile work environment, discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, race and disability. Susie has experience representing employers in fact-finding conferences and mediations before the PHRC and the EEOC. Susie’s practice also consists of counseling and advising clients on employment matters. She often advises employers on day to day employment matters and assists her clients on employee issues such as hiring and terminations, which includes drafting and negotiating separation agreements. Susie has experience drafting and revising employment agreements, employee handbooks, non-compete and non-solicitation agreements. Susie is admitted in the Middle District and Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She is also admitted in the Federal Court for the District of New Jersey.
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