Reopening Massachusetts:
Massachusetts Travel Order and COVID-19 Testing
Massachusetts Travel Order
Governor Baker announced a new Executive Order (the “Order”) that will go into effect August 1, 2020. The Order imposes strict rules governing travel in Massachusetts. It mandates anyone entering Massachusetts to:

  1. Complete a travel form prior to or immediately upon arrival in the Commonwealth and
  2. Quarantine for 14 days immediately upon arrival in the Commonwealth. 
Non-compliance with the Order may result in a fine of up to $500 per day. A person subject to the mandatory quarantine shall be released from quarantine if he or she obtains a negative COVID-19 test result from a test administered after he or she entered the Commonwealth. There are a number of exemptions, including:
Lower Risk State
Persons entering Massachusetts from a COVID-19 lower risk state (as determined by the Department of Public Health (“DPH”)). Currently, the list includes Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Hawaii. Note, states deemed lower risk are subject to change based on health data metrics, states may be removed from the list or new states may be added to the list.

72-hour Testing
Persons who have received a negative COVID-19 test result from a sample taken within 72 hours of entering Massachusetts. The test method must be approved by the DPH. Any person who has taken a COVID-19 test but has not yet received the results upon entering Massachusetts, will be required to quarantine until a negative result is received.

Transitory Travel
Persons merely passing through Massachusetts to a destination not within the Commonwealth. This exemption extends only for as long as reasonably required for said person to complete his or her transit, make any necessary plane, bus, train or other travel connection, or make use of travel services such as a highway rest stop.

Military Personnel
Any person required to travel to Massachusetts at the order or directive of a Federal or State military authority.
Commuting for Work or School
Any resident of Massachusetts who regularly commutes to work or school at a fixed location outside of Massachusetts, or a non-Massachusetts resident who regularly commutes to work or school at a fixed location within Massachusetts. This exemption extends only to the travel between the person’s residence and the place of work or school.

Receiving Medical Treatment
Any patient traveling to Massachusetts to seek or received specialized medical care from a physician located in the Commonwealth. This exemption also extends to persons accompanying the patient.

Workers Providing Critical Infrastructure Services Any person arriving in Massachusetts for the purpose of actually performing a critical infrastructure function. Under this exemption, “critical infrastructure function” means only work performed by Critical Infrastructure Workers as identified in Version 3.1 of the listing published by the Federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency dated May 19, 2020. Workers traveling to or from Massachusetts for personal or leisure reasons are unable to rely on this exemption.

This list of exemptions is subject to change.
What This Means for Employers
Employers are discouraged from requiring or allowing out-of-state travel to or from non-lower risk states for business purposes. Employers may still send employees on business travel to locations that have been deemed lower risk.

Employers are also urged to strongly discourage their employees from taking leisure travel to non-lower risk destinations. Employers must consider what impact employees traveling to non-lower risk states will have on the company as a whole. Companies may want to consider implementing a travel policy.
A few things for employers to keep in mind:

  • Whether the employee will be required to quarantine for 14 days before being able to return to work;
  • The feasibility of employees being out of work for an extended period of time;
  • Whether a negative COVID-19 test will be required for the employee to return to work;
  • Whether teleworking will be available if an employee is required to quarantine; and
  • Whether the employee subject to quarantine is entitled to paid sick leave under the FFCRA because the employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.

Feel free to each out to Phifer Pinkham, LLC and we can answer any questions concerning employee travel or if you are in need of a travel policy.
CDC Testing Update
Recently, the CDC has issued new guidance regarding re-testing after a positive COVID-19 test result. The CDC no longer recommends retesting for COVID-19 within 3 months of the date of symptom onset or diagnosis because specimens of the virus can continue to be found in the respiratory system for up to 12 weeks. This may result in a positive test result even though the person is no longer contagious.
What This Means for Employers:
How to Return an Employee to Work after they are diagnosed with COVID-19
The CDC recommends employers use a symptom-based strategy to determine when an employee can return to work, not the test-based strategy it previously recommended. Under the symptom-based strategy, a symptomatic person diagnosed with COVID-19 can discontinue isolation 10 days after the onset of symptoms, so long as they have not had a fever for at least 24 hours without having used fever-reducing medications in that 24-hour time, and other symptoms have improved. An asymptomatic person diagnosed with COVID-19 may discontinue isolation 10 days after the date of their first positive diagnostic test.
We Are Here to Help in This Time of Need
Many of our clients have raised questions about remote work arrangements, essential employees reporting to work, layoffs, health insurance continuation, medical inquiries and employee privacy. 

Phifer Pinkham, LLC will remain open, subject to any additional government orders, during normal business hours to assist you with any questions you may have.

We will continue providing updates and guidance as more information becomes available.
Phifer Pinkham, LLC is a full service law firm representing businesses, their owners, and individuals in connection with their legal needs in the areas of business and corporate law, litigation, estate planning and administration, employment law, taxation, intellectual property, real estate, and non profit representation. We provide premium legal services without the Boston premium. Please contact us at (617) 409-7409 to set up an in-person or phone consultation, or please feel free to contact any of our attorneys directly at the email address links provided below.