Revised COVID-19 Protocol for Employers
By: Alicia Lamboy, Esq.
Angel Berberena, Esq.
January 07, 2022
On January 5, 2022, the Department of Health of Puerto Rico (DOH) published a revised version of its Protocol for the Management of COVID-19 Cases in the Workplace. (See: Client Alert of November 3, 2021, for original protocol). The Updated Protocol provides specific guidelines on how to manage a variety of COVID-19 scenarios in the workplace. The most relevant revisions recently introduced are related to quarantine requirements applicable to employees who were in close contact with a person positive to COVID-19 and exemptions thereto.
A summary of these revisions include:
- Employees who are not sick but were in close contact with a person that tested positive must be quarantined, regardless of how the close contact occurred (home or workplace). The duration of the quarantine will vary depending on the vaccination status of the employee.
- Fully vaccinated employees must complete a 7-day quarantine period. The employee must take a viral test (antigen, antigen home tests registered with the DOH BioPortal, PCR or under telemedicine services) for COVID-19 five days after the contact. If the test result is negative, the employee can return to work on the 8th day.
- Employees that are not fully vaccinated must complete a 14-day quarantine period.
- Employees in the following industries/groups are exempt from observing the quarantine period:
- Healthcare professionals (e.g., hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies, pharmaceutical industry, medical offices, or clinical settings).
- Long-term care facilities such as elderly housing, and elderly homes.
- Facilities associated with the penal system.
- Non-resident travelers in Puerto Rico.
- Shelters for the homeless.
- K-12 schools.
- Security personnel (e.g., policemen, firefighters, soldiers, among others).
- Persons associated to the food distribution chain, banking, hostels, lodging services and manufacturing.
- Persons who have received the booster dose 2 weeks prior to the contact.
The Updated Protocol follows Executive Order No. 2021-085 requiring theaters, coliseums, convention centers, and restaurants to limit the occupancy load of its premises to 50%, if indoor, and 75%, if outdoor; Executive Order 2021-086 requiring commercial establishments that provide services to the public to close between 12:00 AM to 5:00 AM from January 4, 2022 – January 18, 2022; and Executive Orders No. 2021-075 and No. 2021-087 requiring public order personnel and first responders to receive COVID-19 boosters by January 31, 2022. Private sector employees working in restaurants, bars supermarkets, gas stations, and similar establishments are also required to have their boosters or to provide weekly COVID-19 test results or positive test results with evidence of recovery within the last three months.
As always, all employers are encouraged to promote full vaccination among their workforce, including booster doses recommended by the DOH or the Centers for Disease Control.
Goldman Antonetti & Córdova, LLC stands ready to assist you and your business to adjust to Puerto Rico’s regulatory and legal changes. If you need further assistance in this area, please contact any of the following members of our Firm:
Disclaimer: Although the information included in this document may concern legal issues, it is not a legal opinion or professional advice and clients shall not use it as such. We assume no responsibility or liability of any kind for any information contained herein, and we expressly disclaim all liability for any claim for damages arising from the use, reference to, or reliance on, such information. If legal or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.