Governor Kathy Hochul of New York says that if workers are fully vaccinated and meet other safety regulations, they can return to work in just five days following a positive coronavirus test.
Workers were formerly required to leave their employment for at least 10 days.
The change in quarantine criteria, Hochul said Friday, will make it easier to preserve “critical services that New Yorkers need, healthcare, transportation, grocery stores.”
Employees in a wide range of industries, from pharmacies and food processing factories to hospitals and taxi fleets, will be affected by the policy change.
The governor made the announcement that the omicron variant has caused an increase in infections across the nation.
The number of daily infections in New York State has risen dramatically in recent days, from around 22,000 on Tuesday to more than 44,000 on Thursday, according to officials.
“Positive cases don’t mean you’re too sick [to work] and require hospitalization,” she said. “We want to make sure our critical workforce … can get back.”
In a statement, New York’s acting Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said the impact of the winter omicron surgeon on the workforce “is already being felt.”
“A reduction of isolation from 10 days to 5 days is sensible guidance and in alignment with the recent CDC guidance for health workers,” Bassett said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new national guidance on Thursday permitting COVID-19-infected workers to return to work after a 7-day quarantine and a new negative test.
“That isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages,” the CDC said in a statement.