What You Need to Know About the New Quarantine Order
July 29, 2020 Industry News, COVID-19
On July 24, Governor Baker announced that all persons arriving in Massachusetts, including residents and non-residents, must quarantine for 14 days unless they meet one of seven exceptions. Notably, this quarantine requirement would extend to vacationers coming to short-term rentals, residents who leave the state and then return, or buyers and sellers who are coming here to purchase real estate.
We’ve broken down what you need to know about the quarantine in three areas that apply to our members:
- What to do if an agent leaves the state when they return;
- What is the responsibility of buyers and sellers coming to Massachusetts;
- What is the responsibility of a vacation rental brokerage (an operator of lodging);
Here is the new Massachusetts quarantine policy:
If Arriving From a “Low-Risk” State:
If the person has spent the last 14 days prior to arriving in Massachusetts in a low-risk state(s) as designated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, there is no requirement to quarantine or complete the mandatory travel form.
Currently (as of 7/29/20) states exempt from the order are: Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Hawaii.
If arriving from any other state, the traveler or returning Massachusetts resident must complete the Mandatory Travel Form. If the person has spent any of the last 14 days in a high-risk state, there is a requirement to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival UNLESS the person can produce, upon request, proof of a negative test result for COVID-19 from a test administered on a sample taken no longer than 72 hours before their arrival in Massachusetts.
A visitor or returning resident may also avoid the 14 day quarantine requirement if they receive a negative coronavirus test result taken once they arrive in Massachusetts.
Everyone arriving from a state not designated “low-risk” must complete the mandatory travel form even if they have a negative COVID-19 test. Enforcement of the travel order is the purview under the order of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, police, and local health boards. There is no requirement for businesses to enforce the order.
Impact on Brokerage Operations
Real estate brokerages should inform their agents and staff that they should not come to the office or meet with clients until they have fulfilled the obligations of the order if they have left the state and return -- meaning either the 14 day quarantine or have a negative Covid-19 test.
Brokers should develop office policies around how to handle these situations.
Impact on Buyers and Sellers Coming to Massachusetts
A real estate broker or agent has no obligation to inform buyers and sellers about the quarantine requirements; however it is suggested as a best practice. In addition, these requirements are in place to protect public health, so it is important to remember to protect yourself as well. Note the quarantine requirement would apply to anyone coming here from out of state that does not meet the low-risk state exemption or another exemption outlined in the order.
Impact on Vacation Rental Brokerages
The quarantine requirement does not make it illegal for anyone to travel to Massachusetts. It just puts additional, reasonable guidelines in place if they are traveling here from an at-risk state - a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours before arrival, a negative Covid-19 test once here, or a 14 day quarantine period. Note, during the 14 day quarantine period, it is allowed to leave the state of Massachusetts at any time.
Under the standard Massachusetts Association of REALTORS short-term recreational lease or the MAR Covid-19 Addendum for Short-Term Rentals, it is advised this new quarantine order does not get tenants out of the lease as it is not illegal for them to come. However, we continue to recommend as a best practice that you find amicable solutions between the owner and the tenant in regards to those who want to cancel.
You are not required nor do we recommend you enforce the order, but rather, inform all guests of the new travel order so that they can take the appropriate actions. . Note, even if you have guests from Massachusetts, they still may be traveling here from another state, so we recommend providing everyone with the travel order.
Obligation as an ‘Operator of Lodging’
If you take bookings on short-term rentals, you are an operator of lodging and under the quarantine order, you have certain obligations.
Lodging operators are required to inform guests both at the time a reservation is made and at check-in of the Commonwealth’s current travel order and the guests’ obligation to quarantine for fourteen days after arrival OR until they receive a negative COVI-19 test result, unless they meet certain limited exceptions. Lodging operators are encouraged to post verbiage on their websites and signage at check-in with information about requirements for out-of-state travelers.
Suggested Language to Use
Massachusetts has recently implemented a new travel order. The order requires those who have been in certain “high-risk” states within the last 14 days to complete a mandatory travel form and either quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or receive a negative COVID-19 test result. You can find the entire travel order, here.