By Patrick Connelly, originally published in Buffalo Business First on Nov 10, 2020, 6:00am EST.

With the holidays coming, here’s what to know about New York’s new travel rules

If you’re thinking about a trip out of state for Thanksgiving or any of December’s holidays, here’s what to keep in mind.

New York state’s updated travel protocols are simpler than what had been in play, but they’re still a lot to take in. The updates eliminate what had been a long list of states (43 at last count) where quarantine was mandatory when returning to New York.

Attorneys James Grasso, partner at Phillips Lytle LLP, and Christopher Maugans, associate at Goldberg Segalla, explain what’s at stake for employers and employees.

Short-term travel

Travelers who visit states that are not contiguous to New York for 24 hours or less, no matter the distance, are no longer required upon their return to quarantine for any length of time. Short-term travelers in these instances, however, are required to complete a form issued by the state Department of Health and must take a Covid-19 test on the fourth day of their return.

The form can be downloaded here.

“For neighboring states, they’re not imposing any restrictions,” Maugans said.

Grasso said there is no distinction between business travel or personal/recreational travel.

Long-term travel

Travelers who head to states that are not contiguous to New York for longer than 24 hours must adhere to a different set of rules.

They must test negative for Covid-19 within three days of leaving on the trip. A quarantine period of 14 days is required upon returning, as is completion of the form. On the fourth day of quarantine, if travelers receive a negative test result, they can leave quarantine. A positive test requires a 14-day quarantine.

“Whichever bucket you’re falling into here, you’re still supposed to fill the form out,” Maugans said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re coming in on plane or on a train or a bus; everyone is still supposed to fill out this form.”

Essential workers

Workers at entities the state deemed essential at the onset of the pandemic are exempt from travel restrictions if they’re traveling to a contiguous state, as are first responders.

“It covers any employee who works for an essential employer, regardless of duties, position, etc. – everybody from the maintenance workers up to the CEO would be considered essential employees for purposes of being exempt from the travel advisory,” Grasso said.

However, there are protocols to be followed depending on the length of a trip that are outlined in the state guidance.

Despite having essential worker classification, teachers, school employees and child-care workers must quarantine for a minimum period of three days upon returning and can test out of quarantine on the fourth day if negative.

“The guidance explains that, due to the sensitivity of these congregate settings, the essential employee exemption is not going to apply to them,” he said.