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Quarantine Leave – How long do I need to stay home?

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of the disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their own home. State and local health departments determine and establish the quarantine options for their jurisdictions.


The CDC has set the following recommendations for quarantining after exposure:

If you were in close contact with someone who has Covid-19:


Stay home and monitor your health

  • Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.

  • Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19

  • If possible, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19

What counts as close contact?

  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more

  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19

  • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)

  • You shared eating or drinking utensils

  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you

People who have been in close contact but tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered, do not have to quarantine or get tested again as long as they do not develop new symptoms. People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.


The CDC has offered options to reduce the quarantine period. State and local public health authorities make the final decisions about how long quarantine should last, based on local conditions. You must follow the recommendations of your local public health department if you need to quarantine. The CDC’s options for stopping quarantine include:

  • Stopping quarantine after day 10 without testing; or

  • Stopping quarantine after day 7 after receiving a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later)

After stopping quarantine, you should continue to:

  • Watch for symptoms until 14 days after exposure.

  • If you have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact your healthcare provider.

  • Wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet from others, wash your hands, avoid crowds, and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC continues to endorse quarantine for 14 days and recognizes that any quarantine shorter than 14 days balances reduced burden against a small possibility of spreading the virus.


On December 26, 2020, New York’s Governor Cuomo announced new quarantine guidelines for persons exposed to Covid-19. Previously, New York recommended a 14-day quarantine period. The new guidelines state that quarantine for individuals exposed to Covid-19 and who have not tested positive can end after ten days without a testing requirement if no symptoms have been reported during the quarantine period. Additionally, individuals ending quarantine on day 10 must do the following:


· Continue daily symptom monitoring through day 14;

· Be counseled to continue strict adherence to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, including hand hygiene and use of face coverings, through day 14; and

· Be advised that if any symptoms develop, they should immediately self-isolate and contact their health care provider to report this change in clinical status and determine if they should seek testing.


Companies in New York are required, at minimum, to follow the revised quarantine guidelines issued on December 26, 2020 or the local health department’s guidelines if they differ from the guidelines issued by the governor. Companies may elect to follow stricter quarantine guidelines, such as the 14 days endorsed by the CDC. In either case, companies should make sure that their existing policies are compliant with the applicable minimum requirements.