Legal Update

Jan 6, 2022

New York Adopts CDC Isolation and Quarantine Guidelines

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Seyfarth Synopsis:  As of January 4, 2022, New York has adopted the CDC’s recent COVID -19 isolation and quarantine recommendations, which permit individuals to exit isolation after 5 days following a positive COVID-19 test and to permit those exposed to COVID-19 but are fully-vaccinated to avoid quarantine if they wear a mask for 10 days.  New York employers in all industries should incorporate these new standards into their own COVID workplace policies.


On December 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its COVID-19 isolation and quarantine guidance.  As used in the guidance, “isolation” applies to someone who contracts COVID-19, while “quarantine” applies to those who are exposed to someone who is confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19.

The CDC decreased the isolation period for those who contract COVID from 10 days to 5, plus 5 additional days of strict masking when around others.  The CDC also eliminated the requirement that those who are fully vaccinated (or boosted) be quarantined after exposure to someone who had COVID, and instead permits such individuals to wear a mask for 10 days.  The CDC also recommends that those who are not fully vaccinated and are exposed to someone with COVID should quarantine for 5 days plus strictly wear a mask for an additional 5 days when around others.

After some public backlash regarding the absence of a testing requirement in the new guidance, the CDC issued revised guidance on January 4, 2022.  It now strongly recommends, but still does not require, either a PCR or rapid COVID-19 test to exit quarantine.

New York Guidelines

On January 4, 2022, New York adopted the CDC guidelines for the general population.  (Previously, New York had adopted the relaxed CDC guidance only for certain essential workers.)  As such, the following protocols are now in place in New York.


Someone who contracts COVID-19 (irrespective of vaccination status) should isolate for 5 days (where day 0 is the day symptoms begin or, if asymptomatic, the day the individual’s positive test was collected).

At the end of the 5-day isolation period: 

  • Individuals who are asymptomatic, or whose symptoms are resolving, can exit isolation and should wear a well-fitting mask while around others for an additional 5 days.
  • Individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should continue to follow the 10-day isolation period.
  • Individuals who are unable to wear a well-fitting mask for 5 days after the 5-day isolation should also continue in isolation for an additional 5 days.


New York also amended its quarantine guidelines for those who were exposed to someone with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, as follows:

  • Individuals who are not fully vaccinated or not yet boosted (if eligible for booster), are required to quarantine for 5 days after exposure and wear a well-fitting mask while around others for an additional 5 days.
  • Individuals who are fully vaccinated and boosted (or not yet eligible for booster), if they are asymptomatic, they do not need to quarantine but should wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days after exposure to COVID-19. 

In either case, an individual who develops symptoms should quarantine and test.  If the test is negative, the individual can exit quarantine if fully-vaccinated and boosted, or complete their five-day quarantine period if not fully-vaccinated or not yet boosted.   

In addition, the State guidance no longer views “fully-vaccinated” as the gold standard, and instead adopts a new category of those who are “fully vaccinated and boosted.”  The new guidance states in relevant part:

Fully vaccinated and boosted is defined as being 2 weeks or more after either receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or 2 weeks or more after receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine, and having received a booster shot at least 2 weeks before the first date of exposure.

Ultimately, regardless of vaccination status, New York now recommends that all individuals with exposure to a confirmed case “should, if possible” get tested on the 5th day after exposure with either a PCR or rapid COVID-19 test.  Much like the CDC’s newest guidance, this testing recommendation is not mandatory.

Next Steps for Employers

In light of these new and rapidly-evolving developments, employers should consider updating any workplace COVID policies to reflect the amount of time they expect employees to need to isolate or quarantine, depending on their employees’ vaccination status, symptoms, and job requirements.  Of course, employers can choose to adopt a more stringent protocol for their employees. 

Seyfarth will continue to monitor developments in this space and provide updates when available.