Rhode Island Removed From Massachusetts “Lower-Risk States” COVID Travel Exemption Effective August 7, 2020

Effective August 7, 2020, Massachusetts removed Rhode Island from one of its “Lower-Risk States” COVID Travel Exemption.  This applies to Massachusetts recently imposed travel restrictions that commenced on August 1, 2020.

The impact of the order means that a Rhode Island resident that travels into Massachusetts must quarantine for 14 days unless one of the following can be established:

(1) Person is coming from a lower risk-state – does not apply to persons coming from Rhode Island;

(2) Negative COVID test taken within the previous 72 hours; or

(3) Meets the exemption criteria.

The exemption criteria includes:

    • Transitory travel — passing through Massachusetts
    • Persons commuting for work or school – only permits travel from a person’s residence to a “fixed place” to attend school or work.  Does not apply to “travel to any place that is not their home state for personal or leisure reasons.”
    • Patients seeking or receiving medical treatment.
    • Military personnel.  
    • Workers Providing Critical Infrastructure Services.  This applies to workers who enter Massachusetts “to perform critical infrastructure functions as specified in Version 3.1 of the Federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.”

CISA’s Guidance permits construction work for essential services and industries including energy, public works, infrastructure, communications, and residential.  The CISA guidelines, however, do not have a broad exemption for construction services generally.  Careful review of the CISA guidelines should be conducted for Rhode Island construction employees who are performing construction services in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts order is clear that travel is required to a fixed place to perform work, but if an employee’s job requirements require him/her to travel to more than one location, the quarantine restrictions could possibly be applied unless the work falls under the CISA guidelines.

The Massachusetts order also requires an online travel form to be completed for those persons entering Massachusetts (or any other non-lower-risk state) upon or prior to entry into Massachusetts.  In addition to contact information, it requires the following certification:

Failure to complete the form or comply with the order may result in a fine of $500 per day.

The only states that are considered lower-risk states at this point are: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont.