Today, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced an updated Executive Order imposing restrictions on travelers to the Commonwealth, effective August 1. Unlike the State’s prior travel advisory, the updated travel order empowers the Commonwealth to enforce the Executive Order and pre-existing Department of Public Health (“DPH”) guidance provided pursuant to the travel order by imposing a $500 civil fine against violators for each violation of the travel order or guidance. Each day of non-compliance may be considered a separate violation. Thus, violators could be liable for up to $7,000 in penalties if they fail to self-quarantine for the entire 14-day period. The travel order also contemplates injunctive relief from a Massachusetts state court.
Under the new order, all travelers arriving in Massachusetts from certain high-risk states must self-quarantine for 14 days unless subject to certain exemptions. Individuals who are traveling from lower-risk states and those who have received a negative COVID-19 test result within the 72 hours prior to arrival in Massachusetts are exempted from the 14-day quarantine requirement.
Additionally, the Executive Order exempts from the self-quarantine requirement individuals travelling through the State on their way to another location, persons regularly commuting to work or school, patients receiving medical treatment in Massachusetts, military personnel traveling pursuant to a military authority’s order or directive, and persons actively performing critical infrastructure services.
Any individuals not exempt from the self-quarantine requirement under any of the above exceptions must immediately quarantine upon arrival for a period of 14 days. Individuals required to self-quarantine must complete and submit a Massachusetts Travel Form acknowledging the self-quarantine requirement and certifying the means by which he or she will comply with those obligations. The travel order provides that any person obligated to comply must submit such forms to the DPH stating his or her intended place of quarantine and providing other information allowing the DPH to confirm compliance with the quarantine requirement.
Of particular importance to employers, the new Executive Order strongly discourages employers from requiring or allowing business-related travel outside of lower-risk states, and states that employers should ensure that employees comply with all State-issued travel rules whenever they engage in employer-paid or employer-reimbursed travel.
The order leaves open several questions concerning when to self-certify, where to send self-certification forms, whether lodging providers must report violations of the quarantine requirements, and how students returning to school from out-of-state to reside on campus will comply with the order. The order provides that the DPH will release further guidance on compliance with the travel order’s new quarantine requirements.