New Executive Order Affects Employee Travel Restrictions

February 10, 2021
Inside HR
HR Compliance
Read time: 3 mins

On January 21, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel. It was a step toward his promise to address the spread of COVID-19 and put more safety measures in place.

As the title indicates, there are two segments to this order. The first relates to domestic forms of travel. In accordance with Section 5302 of Title 49, it includes any shared-ride mode of transportation including commercial aircraft and airports, trains, intercity buses and stations, subways, and other forms of public transit. There is no major shift to this guidance, as it states masks must be worn and CDC recommended social distancing observed.

The second portion of the order went into effect January 26, 2021, and addresses international travel. This also follows the CDC guidelines. All passengers, age two or older, entering the United States must provide test results taken within three days prior to departure. Each airline will confirm either a negative test result or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days. Anyone without the proper documentation will not be allowed to board. More specific information related to returning to the U.S. from other countries has been provided by the Department of State.

It is also recommended that individuals contact the airlines when booking a trip to ask if there are any additional restrictions or requirements. While the CDC guidelines are the basis for travel, certain airlines may take additional measures. Other countries may also impose travel restrictions on U.S. citizens. The U.S. Department of State has provided country-specific information to help you prepare.

Most importantly, individuals are strongly encouraged to plan ahead prior to travel. Allow enough time to test and receive results, and plan for longer wait times or delays while the additional safety precautions are in place.

While employers cannot restrict personal travel, they may require employees to work remote or quarantine for a period of time upon return home from personal travel. Such policies should be communicated to employees in advance so expectations are clear and employees understand what will be expected of them upon return from personal vacations/travel. 

Employers requiring business travel should also equip employees with the necessary resources to comply with the various restrictions in place, and also support employees upon their return from travel to ensure their safe return to their families and workplace.

With travel starting to pick up, it’s essential that employers continue promoting safe work environments while at the office or in production areas. Many employees have continued to work onsite during the pandemic and many more are beginning to return. It is important to remember that people previously infected with COVID-19 or who have received the vaccination are not exempted from following safety measures and should still follow OSHA and CDC recommendations to contain the spread. This is reiterated in OSHA’s recently released Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace. MRA will continue to provide updates to any changes to this and other COVID-related legislation.

Source: Deborah Morgan, HR Government Affairs and Business Advisor, MRA – The Management Association