Updated protocol for the management of COVID-19 cases in the workplace

On January 4, 2022, the Puerto Rico Department of Health issued the updated Protocol for the Management of Covid-19 Cases in the Workplace (the “Protocol”), establishing guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace and the reentry of employees who have been infected and/or exposed to Covid-19. In sum, the guidelines reemphasize the importance of vaccination, universal use of facemasks, precautionary measures against Covid-19, and details on how to disinfect workplace facilities. Attached is copy of the Protocol for your easy reference.


The Protocol establishes an employer’s duty to (1) report positive cases in the workplace to the Puerto Rico Department of Health, by email sent to covidpatronos@salud.pr.gov, (2) encourage sick employees and employees with Covid-19 related symptoms1 to remain home. Moreover, any employee who develops Covid-19 symptoms and/or becomes infected during working hours must be immediately removed from the workplace.


Before returning to the workplace, Covid-19 sick employees and those who had close contact with a positive Covid-19 person must fulfill the reentry protocols, divided in degree of exposure, infection, quarantine or isolation as follows:

QUARANTINE

Fully Vaccinated EmployeeNon-vaccinated Employee/ Not Fully Vaccinated
Healthy Employee in Close Contact2 with a Positive Covid-19 PersonMust QUARANTINE for 7-days and undergo a viral test (including antigen, off the counter antigen test registered in BioPortal, molecular or telemedicine) for SARS-Cov-2 on the 5th day following the close contact with the positive Covid-19 person. If the test is negative and the employee has not developed any Covid-19 symptoms, the employee can return to the workplace on the 8th day after exposure.Must QUARANTINE for 14-days following the close contact with the Covid-19 positive person. However, in prolonged exposition (e.g., other household members are infected) the case investigator may determine another QUARANTINE term.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, asymptomatic vaccinated employees who have received the booster dose and two (2) weeks have elapsed since its administration do not have to QUARANTINE.


Likewise, employees working in the following sectors do not have to QUARANTINE: (1) health professionals, (2) long-term care facilities such as aegis and elderly homes, (3) penal system facilities, (4) non-resident travelers in Puerto Rico, (5) shelters and homeless shelters, (6) K-12 Schools, (7) security personnel (e.g., police, firefighters, soldiers, etc.), and (8) personnel associated to the food distribution chain, banking, hospitality, lodging services and manufacturing.

ISOLATION

SymptomaticAsymptomatic
Covid-19 Confirmed or Probable Cases (regardless of vaccination status)Must ISOLATE in their homes.
Isolation can be terminated when the following criteria are met: (a) after at least ten (10) days have elapsed from developing the first Covid-19 symptoms; (b) after 24 hours have elapsed after the resolution of the fever without the use of fever-reducing medication; and (c) other symptoms have improved.
However, the isolation for severe cases, hospitalized persons, or with compromised immune system must ISOLATE for 20-days after developing the first symptoms or a positive test.
Must ISOLATE in their homes.Isolation can be terminated when the following criteria is met: at least ten (10) days have elapsed since the first positive molecular or antigen test for Covid-19.

After the conclusion of the isolation period, an employee can return to the workplace without providing a negative molecular or antigen test for Covid-19. Moreover, employers should not require the results of a Covid-19 test nor a medical certificate to be eligible for sick-leave or to return to the workplace.


We are available to assist you in the implementation and/or revision of the pertinent policies to assure compliance with the Protocol recently established, as set forth herein.