By Christopher T. Vrountas, Esq. and Allison C. Ayer, Esquire, Vrountas, Ayer & Chandler, P.C.
As vaccinations ramp up while cases and hospitalizations trend down, both New Hampshire and Massachusetts have started to loosen certain COVID-19 restrictions, including regarding travel. While caution remains the rule, the easing of restrictions in both states bodes well for business and workers alike in the region.
On March 16, 2021, the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services Bureau of Disease Control issued new Travel Guidance related to coronavirus. These are the highlights:
Despite New Hampshire’s lifting of some quarantine restrictions, scientific studies have shown that traveling does increase one’s risk of contracting coronavirus. As a result, New Hampshire still recommends following the CDC’s travel guidance, including wearing a mask while traveling, practicing social distancing, avoiding large crowds and public transportation, and getting tested by PCR (verses rapid) test after returning to the state after travel. Moreover, even those who test negative for COVID and/or are exempt from quarantine, should still self-monitor for symptoms, and isolate if they develop any after their travels, according to New Hampshire’s new guidance.
Massachusetts has also made changes to its travel restrictions. On March 18, 2021, Governor Baker announced the transition to Step 1 of Phase IV of the reopening plan. Under this new phase, Massachusetts will end its travel order and instead be subject to a “travel advisory.” According to the travel of advisory, anyone travelling to Massachusetts after a 24-hour absence, including residents who travel outside the Commonwealth and return after more than 24 hours, are advised to quarantine for 10 days. But this quarantine is no longer mandatory or subject to fines.
The lifting of restrictions in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts should be good news for New Hampshire businesses and employers. Fewer travel restrictions likely mean more visitors and revenue for New Hampshire. For employers, less stringent travel restrictions also mean that most employees can return to work as soon as they return from a vacation or other out-of-state travel (unless they have travelled internationally or by cruise ship). This likely means fewer coverage issues and scheduling complications going forward.
Still, until a much larger percentage of the population is vaccinated, the spread of COVD-19 remains an active concern. New Hampshire businesses/employers should continue to enforce reasonable mitigation measures like mask wearing, social distancing, and self-quarantines for those with symptoms. At this point, we have learned that these efforts work to reduce the spread and can serve to avoid yet another surge that could require reversing course on loosened restrictions.
For more information, employers should refer to New Hampshire’s Employer Travel, Screening, and Exclusion Guidance and/or consult with industry experts or legal counsel as specific issues arise.
Vrountas, Ayer & Chandler, P.C.
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