At the beginning of December, the CDC issued new guidance regarding the length of quarantine. Although the new CDC guidance was not definitive in shortening the quarantine period, it did provide options to local health departments to shorten the quarantine period, if they determined it appropriate.

On December 14th, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released its own COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance. The CDPH follows suggestions from the CDC in reducing the length of quarantine for asymptomatic individuals who have been in close contact with an infected person (within 6 feet for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more). These individuals may discontinue quarantine after Day 10 with or without testing. Governor Newsom has also issued an Executive Order, N-84-20, which limits required quarantine periods under Cal OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard to either the CDPH guidance or local public health standards, whichever is longer.

Under the CDPH guidance, individuals who have been exposed must still wear face coverings at all times, maintain social distance of at least 6 feet from others, and practice other safety measures beyond the shortened quarantine period.

The CDPH guidance includes a special exception for healthcare, emergency response, and social service workers who work in child welfare or assisted living facilities in cases of “critical staffing shortages” – a term not defined in the guidance.  In those circumstances, asymptomatic employees who have tested negative after being tested on the fifth day after exposure may return to work after quarantining or seven days.  These employees should use surgical face masks at all times during work and continue to use face coverings when outside their home through Day 14 of the last exposure.

Although the state standards now allow for shorter quarantine periods, not all local jurisdictions have followed suit. While some, such as the County of Santa Clara, have also reduced the length of recommended quarantine periods, others continue to require 14 days of quarantine after exposure. In those jurisdictions, the longer quarantine requirement will apply for Cal OSHA purposes, as well.

The new CDPH guidelines do not change the travel advisory it issued in November. That advisory recommends that all persons, including California residents, who arrive in or return to California after out-of-state travel should quarantine for 14 days, whether or not they have been exposed to COVID-19.

Jackson Lewis continues to monitor issues pertaining to COVID-19 and employers. If you have questions about state or local guidance pertaining to COVID-19 contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.