Roslyn joined Jonathan Maze from Restaurant Business on his podcast, A Deeper Dive, to discuss what restaurants can do to protect their workers amid the next wave of COVID.
Most of the national law firms and the Society for HR Management continue to advise that there are steps you should be taking now to be prepared for whatever happens. Most importantly, you’re going to need to know who is vaccinated and who isn’t. Here’s an excellent guide from Fisher Phillips with some key steps they advise taking now, like collecting information about your workforce (like vaccination status) and drafting policies and procedures, so your ducks are in a row if action is required. Most aren’t going so far as to purchase tests yet, unless required by state or local governments.
Rapid tests vary in two major ways: how quick and easy they are to use, and how likely they are to give a false negative result. All rapid tests are very accurate for positive results - if they say you have COVID, you almost certainly have COVID. The range of false negative results can be anywhere from 3% to over 20%, assuming you follow the instructions correctly. Overall, though, most rapid tests are similar in accuracy and any brand you can get at your local pharmacy is great. When choosing a test, be sure to check the instructions - a few take 30 minutes for results, while most take 10-15. If you’re looking for tests for employees to take before work, the shorter the better to reduce the risk of exposure to any managers and coworkers while they wait for those results.
The current requirement is that everyone returning to the US from traveling abroad needs a negative COVID test no more than 24 hours before air travel back to the US - regardless of whether you’re a citizen or whether you’re fully vaccinated. Airlines will check for your negative test before you board the plane. Those who recently recovered from COVID within 90 days of the flight can show a positive test result and a note from a doctor clearing them to travel. The US isn’t currently requiring quarantine for international travelers returning home, though the situation is far from static and anyone traveling abroad should keep a close eye on changing requirements in both their destination and back in the US.
Currently, the CDC treats any COVID infection - breakthrough or regular - the same in terms of isolation. Everyone COVID positive should isolate for 10 days from the day their symptoms started. But for many who are fully vaccinated (and boosted), they feel better and start testing negative much earlier than 10 days, indicating that they no longer have a high enough viral load to infect others. Several studies indicate that a vaccinated person with a breakthrough case is infectious at a lower level and for a shorter period of time - even as short as five days. Our CDC contacts do confirm that an update to exclusion guidance is under consideration, but couldn’t give us much insight into timing. All that said, the studies on this subject are still relatively small and don’t take into consideration the Omicron variant, so that may hold any changes up until we understand more about its transmission.