California’s Latest Travel Quarantine Requirements

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the U.S., California continues to update its travel quarantine guidance. On January 6, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued an updated Travel Advisory that replaced the previous Travel Advisory issued on November 13, 2020. In its January 6th Travel Advisory, the CDPH indicates that Californians should avoid non-essential travel that is more than 120 miles from the person’s residence and avoid any travel outside the state or country. Non-essential travel, as defined by the CDPH, includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.

Although the CDPH strongly discourages non-essential travel from other states or countries, those who do travel for non-essential purposes should self-quarantine for 10 days after arrival. These quarantine guidelines do not apply to those who travel for essential purposes, defined as travel for work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services, supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.

Although the state of California recommends a 10-day quarantine after non-essential travel, many cities in California have issued their own travel quarantine orders. On December 30, 2020, the San Francisco Department of Health (SFDH) updated its Public Health Emergency Order, which includes a travel quarantine provision. In its Order, the SFDH institutes a mandatory quarantine period of 10 days for anyone traveling, moving, or returning to San Francisco from anywhere outside the Bay Area with limited exceptions. The Order also strongly discourages any non-essential travel outside the 10-county Bay Area region. Also, on December 30, 2020, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health updated its Mandatory Directive on Travel, which mandates that anyone traveling outside the Southern California region for a non-essential purpose must quarantine for 10 days.

Other counties and cities may have their own travel quarantine requirements, so employers should review their local health department’s website to determine if there is any travel quarantine guidance specific to their business’s location. If both a state order and a local order are in place, the more restrictive Order must be followed.

Moreover, California’s Regional Stay at Home Order is still in effect, which triggers numerous restrictions, including for travel, when the number of available ICU beds drops below 15% in any of the five Regions (Northern California, Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California).

Because travel quarantine guidance is continually changing in California, employers are encouraged to follow the most recent quarantine requirements when an employee returns from any non-essential travel. The California Team at Employers Council will continue to monitor developments related to travel quarantine guidance in California. If you have any questions, please contact us at