COVID-19: Massachusetts to Institute Fines for Non-Compliance with New Travel Restrictions

Effective August 1, 2020 Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s Order 45 requires all out of state (and international) travelers entering Massachusetts, specifically including students and returning residents, to quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 rest result from a test administered within 72 hours prior to arrival in the Commonwealth. If results from a test taken within 72 hours of arrival are not obtained by the time of arrival, the traveler must quarantine until the negative result is received.

Anyone not meeting one of the exemptions below is also required to complete a Travel Form. Failure to comply with this order may result in a $500 fine per day. Instituting a fine is a notable departure from the Commonwealth’s prior approach to quarantine, which was described as an “instruction” and not included in any executive orders.

Travelers from “low risk” states are exempt from these requirements. A state is considered low risk if it has an average of fewer than six daily cases per 100,000 people and a positive test rate below 5%, both measured as a seven-day rolling average. As of July 21, the only low risk states are: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. However, if a traveler has spent time in a state not considered low risk while in transit between two low risk states, the traveler will be treated as if they are arriving from a low risk area.

Similarly, individuals who are only in Massachusetts to transit – for example, to make a plane or bus connection or to drive from Rhode Island to New Hampshire - are exempt from the requirement, provided the transit only lasts as long as is necessary to complete the transit.

The following persons are also exempt from the quarantine requirement:

  • Commuters: People who regularly commute, at least weekly, outside of Massachusetts to attend school or work, or any person who regularly commutes, at least weekly, into Massachusetts to attend school or work; but the exception applies only to and from the person’s residence and place of school or work.
  • Patients Seeking or Receiving Medical Treatment: Patients who are traveling to Massachusetts to seek or receive specialized medical care from a physician located in the Commonwealth and persons accompanying and providing needed support to the patient.
  • Military Personnel: Any person who is required to travel to Massachusetts at the order or directive of a federal or state military authority.
  • Workers Providing Critical Infrastructure Services: Workers who enter Massachusetts to perform critical infrastructure functions (note, this is not the same as “essential workers”) are exempt from quarantine while they are commuting to or from or while at work. For the first 14 days after arrival, when the worker is not at work or commuting to work, they must quarantine. Additional information may be found here. Workers who travel to or from Massachusetts for personal or leisure reasons cannot rely on this exemption.

This latest Order supplements previous safety rules, adding that employers should take measures to ensure employees comply with all state-issued travel rules for out-of-state travel, and employers are discouraged from requiring or allowing out-of-state travel to or from non-low risk states. Additionally, lodging operators are required to inform guests of the current travel guidance. Further guidance regarding the Order is available here.

Note that until August 1, the current travel guidelines instructing 14-day quarantine for all travelers from out of state is still in effect. Information on travel and quarantine requirements for other states in New England is available in our alert here, and our alert on the status of reopenings through the region is available here.

For questions on how these orders affect you or your business, please contact firm attorneys Kathleen HamannSarah Remes, or Melanie Conroy.