FREEING THE ASYMPTOMATICS « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


California’s Shifting Sands Shortening of Quarantine Compliance Periods

Continually changing COVID-19 quarantine and isolation standards – commonly at variance between federal, state, and local governments — have joined death and taxes as the only certain things in life.

The latest Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standards (ETS) (November 30, 2020) specified a 14-day symptom-free employee quarantine after a COVID-19 exposure.

Now two weeks later comes the latest California Department of Public Health (CDPH) COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance (Guidance) and accompanying Executive Order N-84-20 (Executive Order), suspending that ETS 14-day quarantine rule for many asymptomatic workers.

Instead, based on the latest CDC pronouncement (December 2) and unless an applicable local public health specifies another duration, the December 14 Guidance directs a ten-day quarantine for an asymptomatic individual after the last close contact with a COVID-confirmed or symptomatic person.

The Guidance also allows exposed asymptomatic health care workers and “exposed asymptomatic emergency response and social service workers who work face to face with clients in the child welfare system or in assisted living facilities” to return to work after a seven-day quarantine following last exposure with a negative PCR test on a specimen collected after day five.

Acknowledging governmental impositions are creating hardship and distrust as the pandemic wears on, the Guidance observes that while the CDC and CDPH are recommending 14-day quarantines as “upper limits of the COVID-19 incubation period,” that duration “can impose burdens that may affect physical and mental health as well as cause economic hardship that may reduce compliance. In addition, the prospect of quarantine may also dissuade recently diagnosed persons from naming contacts and may dissuade contacts from responding to contact tracer outreach if they perceive quarantine as onerous.”

The Guidance still requires asymptomatic persons ending quarantine on these earlier ten- and seven-day time frames to:

  • Wear face coverings “at all times” and stay at least 6 feet from others;
  • Wear surgical face masks at all times upon return to work after day seven and face coverings away from home through day 14 after last exposure; and
  • “Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms through Day 14 and if symptoms occur, immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health department or healthcare provider and seek testing.”

See also,

For further information, please contact Tim BowlesCindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Helena Kobrin

December 18, 2020