On November 17, 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced four new orders designed to combat the unabated resurgence of COVID-19 in the state. One of these included an expansive Order for Mitigation Relating to Travel, imposing a broader new quarantine system in the state, which closely resembles that currently effective in New York.
Previously, Pennsylvania directed that individuals entering the state from an “area where there are high amounts of COVID-19 cases” quarantine for a period of 14-days. It also provided an associated list of states for which travel to/from would trigger the period of quarantine. Individuals entering from states not included on the list were not required to quarantine.
The new Order is more sweeping as the list of selected states triggering quarantine has been eliminated. Now, all individuals traveling into and/or returning to Pennsylvania from any state or international location are subject to quarantine. The Order, however, does provide a bit more flexibility than the prior Order, allowing individuals an option to avoid quarantine if they provide a negative COVID-19 test result that was taken within the prior 72 hours. Specifically, any individual entering Pennsylvania must either (1) produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the last 72 hours, or (2) quarantine for a period of 14-days upon entering the state. Any traveler who has undergone a test and is awaiting results must isolate until those results are provided.
There are limited exceptions. First, the Order does not apply to individuals traveling to Pennsylvania for the purposes of work or for medical reasons. Secondly, it does not apply to military personnel traveling to Pennsylvania upon government order. Lastly, it does not apply to individuals traveling through Pennsylvania on their way to a different state if the time spent in Pennsylvania is only the amount necessary to complete the transit.
The formal Order can be viewed here.
The Order speaks to the production of test results and requirements of quarantine but it does not indicate who is responsible for enforcement or what the penalties might be for failed compliance. During the press briefing of November 17, 2020, Dr, Levine indicated that the Commonwealth is looking for support from employers and businesses in their enforcement of these provisions. In short, the expectation is that Employers in the Commonwealth will effect policies and protocols to police and enforce these guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID19. The assertion is that every business has an interest in maintaining a safe work environment as well as promoting a viable, open economy. All businesses should review existing policy and protocol for enhancements or modifications consistent with this Order.
If you have any questions about this Order, please contact one of the attorneys in our Employment Law Group at 1-888-488-2638.