Georgia Adopts Latest CDC Exposure Guidance Reducing Coronavirus Quarantine Period To 7 To 10 Days
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued a December 30 Executive Order — effective through January 15 — that reduces the coronavirus quarantine period for those exposed to the COVID-19 virus to either seven or ten days for most businesses. In all other respects, the December 30 Executive Order keeps in place the provisions from the September, October, and November Executive Orders. What do you need to know about this order, and what should you do as you continue to reopen and operate your business?
Differences Between Latest Order And Past Orders
The December 30 Executive Order follows the CDC’s early December guidance, first reported here, put in place by the CDC to make it easier for people to quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 by reducing the time they cannot work. As the CDC also noted at the time, a shorter quarantine period would also lessen stress on the public health system, especially when new infections are rapidly rising nationwide.
The December 30 Executive Order now includes guidance for most businesses to follow “Post-Exposure Quarantine Protocol,” in accordance with the new CDC guidance on exposure. Once employers have conducted a “6-15-48” analysis, the current options for employers in Georgia who have employees exposed to COVID-19 are to have exposed employees either:
- Quarantine at their home or place of residence for 14 days from the date of most recent exposure;
- Quarantine at their home or place of residence for at least 10 days from the date of most recent exposure, then practice extreme diligence in monitoring for Symptoms of COVID-19, wearing a face covering, and social distancing until 14 days have passed since the date of most recent exposure; or
- Quarantine at their home or place of residence for at least seven days from the date of most recent exposure if a COVID-19 test was taken no earlier than day five of quarantine and a negative result is received, then practice extreme diligence in monitoring for Symptoms of COVID-19, wearing a face covering, and social distancing until 14 days have passed since the date of most recent exposure.
Georgia’s Department of Public Health produced a useful graphic illustrating the three options that can be found here.
The December 30 Executive Order also requires that if at any time during the Post-Exposure Quarantine Protocol time period a person experiences symptoms of COVID-19, that person must seek a COVID-19 test, isolate until test results are received, and proceed in accordance with the test results and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines. While this language would seem to require testing for all exposed employees, given Georgia’s deference to CDC guidelines, employers may still use the CDC’s time-based method for allowing sick employees to safely return to work.
What Should Employers Do?
Non-critical infrastructure employers should follow the new guidance about in order to bring exposed employees back to work safely. As for critical infrastructure employers, the December 30 Executive Order does not require critical infrastructure to comply with these new protocols, but as previously discussed here, given the CDC’s latest guidance on critical infrastructure employers allowing exposed but asymptomatic employees to work without quarantining only as “a last resort and only in limited circumstances,” these new, shorter quarantine timeframes are another option for those employers to keep their operations running smoothly if they cannot meet the last resort threshold in the new CDC requirements.
Fisher Phillips will continue to monitor the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation and provide updates as appropriate. Make sure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ Alert System to get the most up-to-date information. For further information, contact your Fisher Phillips attorney, any attorney in our Atlanta office, or any member of our Post-Pandemic Strategy Group Roster.
This Legal Alert provides an overview of a specific developing situation. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.