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November 2, 2020

Stroock Client Alert

By: Howard S. Lavin, Elizabeth E. DiMichele

On October 31, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that, effective November 4, 2020, out-of-state travelers to New York may “test out” of the otherwise mandatory 14-day quarantine period for individuals entering New York State.  

In this client alert, we summarize Governor Cuomo’s new guidelines.  

Subject to certain exceptions for “Essential Workers,[1]” summarized below, the guidelines apply to all travelers from either a non-contiguous state—that is, all states except Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont—or US territory, or any CDC Level 2 or Level 3 Health Notice country, whether or not such person is a New York resident.   All such travelers are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon entering New York State.  Travelers, however, may “test out” of the full 14-day quarantine period, as follows:

  • A traveler to New York State who was in another state (other than a contiguous state) for more than 24 hours:

• Must obtain a test within three days of departure from that state and provide proof of a negative test within three days after arrival to New York State;

Must, upon arrival in New York, quarantine for three days; and

•  On day 4 of quarantine, obtain another COVID test.

The traveler may exit quarantine early upon receipt of a second negative diagnostic test.

  • A traveler to New York State who was in another state for less than 24 hours:  

•  Need not obtain a test prior to departure from the other state, and does not need to quarantine upon arrival in New York State.

•  Must take a COVID diagnostic test 4 days after arrival in New York State.

All travelers, including those who were in another state for less than 24 hours, must continue to fill out the Traveler Information Form upon arrival in New York State for purposes of New York State's contact tracing program.

Essential Workers are exempt from the travel advisory requirements, although they remain subject to guidelines depending upon the amount of time spent in New York.  Essential Workers who travel to New York for short-term (less than 12 hours with no overnight stay) or medium term (less than 36 hours) stays are not required to obtain a COVID-19 test.  Essential Workers who travel to New York State for long-term stays of 36 hours or longer with multiple overnight stays are advised to obtain diagnostic testing for COVID-19 within 24 hours of arrival.  All Essential Workers are advised to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, practice infection control measures like wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing, avoid extended periods in public and contact with strangers, and regularly disinfect workspaces. 


Employers should take note of the new Travel Advisory Guidelines because it affects the ability of employees to return to work following travel – both work-related and personal.  On the plus side, employees who have two negative test results following travel can return to work prior to the expiration of the 14-day quarantine period.  That being said, the quarantine applies to all but contiguous states, and not only designated high-risk states[2], so more employees may be affected, even if for a shorter time.

The elimination of the list of high-risk states raises another question.  Under the previous iteration of the Travel Advisory, if an employee chose to undertake non-essential travel to a high-risk state, other than for work or at the employer’s request, he or she was not entitled to paid sick leave benefits under New York’s COVID-19 paid sick leave law.  Query how the new guidelines affect an employee’s eligibility for paid sick leave following voluntary out-of-state travel to a non-contiguous state.


For More Information:

Howard S. Lavin

Elizabeth E. DiMichele

This Stroock publication offers general information and should not be taken or used as legal advice for specific situations, which depend on the evaluation of precise factual circumstances. Please note that Stroock does not undertake to update its publications after their publication date to reflect subsequent developments. This Stroock publication may contain attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.



[1] An “Essential Worker” is (1) any individual employed by an entity included on the Empire State Development (ESD) Essential Business list; or (2) any individual who meets the COVID-19 testing criteria, pursuant to their status as either an individual who is employed as a health care worker, first responder, or in any position within a nursing home, long-term care facility, or other congregate care setting, or an individual who is employed as an essential employee who directly interacts with the public while working, pursuant to Department of Health Protocol for COVID-19 Testing, issued May 31, 2020, or (3) any other worker deemed such by the Commissioner of Health.


[2] High-risk states are those with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or higher than a 10 percent test positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.

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