The joint travel advisory announced by the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut mandating that individuals coming into New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from certain high COVID-19 infection rate states must quarantine for 14 days has raised questions for credit union leaders.
“It’s certainly a challenging situation for us all to navigate,” said Chris Pajak, the New York Credit Union Association’s director of member relations and HR consultant, who has been fielding calls from members about the implications of the advisory the past two days.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 205 on Wednesday, which states that all travelers entering New York from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or higher than a 10% test positivity rate, over a seven-day rolling average, will be required to quarantine for a period of 14 days consistent with Department of Health regulations for quarantine.
The state Department of Health issued additional guidance relative to this executive order on Thursday, and it should also be noted that the travel advisory does not apply to individuals traveling through the designated high-COVID-19 positivity states for less than 24 hours and lists examples of “brief passage” that include stopping at rest stops or layovers for air, bus or train travel.
According to the state guidance released Thursday, there are also three types of essential workers who are exempt from quarantine to affected states:
- any individual employed by an entity included on the Empire State Development Essential Business list;
- anyone employed as a health care worker, first responder, or within a nursing home, long-term care facility or congregate care setting, so long as that individual meets COVID-19 testing criteria and any person employed as an essential employee who directly interacts with the public while working; and
- any other worker deemed as essential by the Commissioner of Health.
Because credit unions are considered essential employers, their employees are also considered essential. Therefore, if they travel to affected states for vacation or other personal reasons, they are not necessarily required to self-quarantine for 14 days, said Pajak.
“Technically, they wouldn’t be subject to the quarantine, however there is a testing requirement,” Pajak said. “They could still work, but additional precautions should be taken to keep them as isolated as possible.”
There have also been questions as to whether credit unions have to pay employees who do quarantine and cannot work while in quarantine.
According to federal law, employers must provide paid sick leave to employees who are subject to government-issued quarantine orders.
However, due to credit unions and their employees being exempt from the mandatory quarantine requirement, it may create additional complications around payment of wages if the credit union decides to require employees to remain out of work for 14 days before returning to work.
Credit unions with additional questions about how the travel advisory affects their credit union employees can reach out to Pajak at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling him at (518) 437-8188.