COVID-19 Update: New Guidance on COVID Isolation Requirements

January 5, 2022 1:06 pm

COVID-19 Update New Guidance on COVID Isolation Requirements

The latest installment of state and federal COVID announcements leave us with more questions than answers…. You have probably heard that the CDC recently shortened its recommended quarantine timeline for COVID-positive individuals from ten days to five. On December 30, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) published its own update in alignment with the CDC.

Both the CDC and CDPH advise the following isolation and quarantine timeframes (included in the CDPH announcement):

Positive COVID-19 Test

  • Persons who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate at home for five days, regardless of symptoms or lack thereof, vaccination status, or previous COVID infection.
  • Isolation can end after five days if symptoms are resolved or resolving and a COVID test is negative.
  • The individual should continue to wear a mask for an additional five days.

COVID-19 Exposure

  • Individuals who have been in close contact with a COVID-19 case are not required to quarantine if they are fully-vaccinated and have received a booster dose.
  • Individuals who are unvaccinated or who have not received a booster, should stay home for five days after the last contact with the COVID-positive person. If COVID symptoms do not develop and a COVID test is negative after day five, quarantine can end.


Before you start revising your company’s COVID protocols, remember that our workplaces are still bound by the Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standard for COVID-19. In fact , the CDPH specifically states that workplaces should consult Cal/OSHA regulations for “additional requirements.”

Those requirements currently include a mandatory ten-day isolation for any employee who tests positive for COVID, and ten days of quarantine for unvaccinated employees who have been in close contact with a COVID-19 case.

Further, in its revised regulations that become effective on January 14, 2022, Cal/OSHA states that fully-vaccinated employees may stay at work following an exposure to COVID only if they 1) remain symptom-free, 2) wear a face covering for 14 days following the date of close contact, 3) maintain six feet of distance from others at the workplace for 14 days, and 4) get a COVID test three to five days after the close contact. Because of the nature of the workplace, or the nature of services provided in the workplace, maintaining the six feet of distance may be impractical or impossible. Thus, the only viable solution may be to exclude those employees from the workplace. If the exposure is work-related, employers must provide exclusionary pay for any missed work hours.

So, what do we do with this conflicting information?

The CDC and CDPH give guidance and recommendations to individuals, while Cal/OSHA gives enforceable regulations to employers. We hope that Cal/OSHA will update its standard to align with these other agencies, but until then we advise maintaining the existing ten-day timelines for excluding employees from work.

Stay Tuned

Sierra HR Partners will provide more details regarding the Cal/OSHA updates that become effective on January 14, and there will be an upcoming Legal Beagle Bagel Breakfast training opportunity with Doug Larsen on all of the recent changes.

As always, Sierra HR Partners is here to help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19 precautions. Stay tuned for more information, and contact one of our Consultants with any questions you have.

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