By Raymond R. Rinkol, Jr.
After a long, cold winter in isolation, most people are ready to get out and go somewhere, right? Not so fast, according to the CDC. "Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. CDC recommends that you do not travel at this time. Delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19." See CDC on Spring Break Travel.
During the pandemic, many employers have delayed, limited, or discontinued non-essential business-related travel. However, some employers may hesitate to inquire into, monitor, or restrict an employee's personal travel plans. To be sure, some states even have statutes that restrict an employer's ability to limit the lawful off-duty conduct of its employees. Still, the CDC has provided guidance on traveling during COVID-19 in order to prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19. Also, the EEOC has provided pandemic-related guidance concerning travel that provides in part: "[W]ith respect to the current COVID-19 pandemic, employers may follow the advice of the CDC and state/local public health authorities regarding information needed to permit an employee's return to the workplace after visiting a specified location, whether for business or personal reasons." See EEOC Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act No. 8. If employees returning from travel are required to stay home and isolate, employers are encouraged to use or implement flexible workplace policies and practices, including allowing such employees to work from home or take paid or unpaid leave.
While the CDC recommends a spring break staycation, it has also provided guidance on traveling during COVID-19, including recommendations before, during and after travel. Before you travel, the CDC recommends a number of health and safety tips, including finding out what vaccines, medicines, or other advice is needed for your destination, getting your flu shot at least 2 weeks before you travel, and making sure you are up-to-date on your MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. Also, the CDC advises getting a viral test 1-3 days before you travel and keeping a copy of your negative test results during travel. If you test positive, do not travel, isolate yourself, and follow public health and medical professional recommendations. See CDC on Spring Break Travel and CDC on Traveling During COVID-19.
Additionally, the CDC recommends other measures in advance and during travel to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, including:
- Get fully vaccinated for COVID-19 if you are eligible.
- Review travel restrictions for your home and destination.
- Wear a mask. "Masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in the U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations."
- Stay at least 6 feet away from people who are not traveling with you.
- Avoid crowds.
- Wash your hands.
- Bring additional supplies, including extra masks and hand sanitizer.
- "Do NOT travel if you were exposed to COVID-19, you are sick or you test positive for COVID-19." See CDC on Traveling During COVID-19.
After you return from travel, the CDC again advises getting "a viral test 3-5 days after your trip and stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after your travel, even if your test is negative. If you don't get tested, stay at home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel." Id. Because you may have been exposed to COVID-19 during travel, the CDC continues to recommend wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, washing your hands, avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness, and watching for symptoms of COVID-19. Id.
In the end, if traveling isn't worth the hassle, a spring break staycation may be just what the doctor ordered.
For more information contact Ray Rinkol at firstname.lastname@example.org or see:
- CDC on Spring Break Travel: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/spring-break-travel
- CDC on Travel During COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html
- EEOC Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act: https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/pandemic-preparedness-workplace-and-americans-disabilities-act