The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has announced that quarantining after exposure to COVID-19 (coronavirus) will no longer be necessary for the general population, including K-12 and childcare settings, beginning on March 12, 2022. OHA will continue to recommend quarantining in high-risk settings, such as health care settings, correctional facilities, and shelters, however. Also, OHA’s isolation protocols won’t change. People who have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 must still isolate for at least 5 days and take other precautions, including wearing a well-fitting mask, for a total of 10 days. (Keep in mind that the purpose of quarantine is to see whether someone contracts COVID-19 after exposure to a sick person, while the purpose of isolation is to keep someone who actually has the illness from spreading it to others.)
Oregon’s change in quarantine protocols has the most significant effect on individuals who aren’t up-to-date (including any recommended boosters) on their COVID-19 vaccinations. We previously reported that Oregon incorporated CDC guidelines on quarantine and isolation (updated January 27, 2022). The CDC’s guidelines state that individuals who aren’t up-to-date on their vaccinations should quarantine for at least 5 days after exposure to someone who is confirmed to have COVID-19, watch for symptoms, and wear a mask for at least 10 days after exposure. In Oregon, this quarantine process will no longer be required as of March 12, 2022.
Tips: Oregon OSHA’s Rule Addressing COVID-19 Workplace Risks (OAR 437-001-0744) refers to OHA, local public health agencies, and medical providers as the entities that determine whether a worker needs to quarantine or isolate. As of March 12, 2022, Oregon employers are no longer required to direct employees to quarantine following an exposure (although you may if you wish to). However, be prepared to comply with a quarantine order from an individual employee’s health care provider. As we previously reported, you cannot take any negative employment action against Oregon employees who participate in required quarantine or isolation activities. So, if an employee’s health care provider recommends that they quarantine, or you voluntarily continue to require employees to quarantine when they have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 after March 12, keep in mind that their jobs are protected under Oregon OSHA rules. For an overview of your obligations, see our Legal Guide, At a Glance: COVID-19 Compliance in Oregon.