California lifts five-day quarantine rule for people exposed to COVID-19 but show no symptoms

Photo of Lauren Hernández

April 13, 2022

This file photograph shows medical assistant Frencesca Delprete takes care of a driver during COVID-19 testing at the Alemany Farmers Market in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, November 30, 2020.

Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The Chronicle

People exposed to others infected with COVID-19 no longer have to quarantine as long as they show no coronavirus symptoms, according to an updated quarantine guidance released by California public health officials.

Previously, individuals who were exposed to COVID-19 were recommended to quarantine for at least five days after exposure, even if they didn’t have symptoms. Everyone who gets exposed, regardless of vaccination status, should get tested within three to five days of their exposure. Close contacts to those exposed individuals should wear masks for 10 days, particularly in indoor settings and when close to people at higher risk of getting seriously ill with COVID-19, state public health officials said.

State public health officials also amended the definition of a close contact to be someone sharing the “same indoor airspace” with a person infected with COVID-19 for “a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period” during the infected person’s infectious period. Indoor airspace can refer to a residence, a hospital waiting room, an airplane, and other indoor spaces, officials said.

California Department of Public Health officials updated the guidance on April 6. Local and county health jurisdictions can still require stricter quarantine rules.

The updated quarantine guidance does not apply to people who live or work in high-risk settings, including emergency medical services personnel, state health officials said. Those individuals will continue following recommendations set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state health officials said.

“This allows us to continue protecting our most vulnerable populations and the workforce that delivers critical services in these settings,” state public health officials said on their web page outlining isolation and quarantine guidance.

Lauren Hernández (she/her) is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @ByLHernandez

Lauren Hernández joined The San Francisco Chronicle in 2018. She covers breaking news, crime and general news. Previously, she was a breaking news reporter for the USA TODAY Network’s Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. She studied journalism at San Jose State University. She is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Hernández has bylines in the Silicon Valley Business Journal and The Desert Sun. Her journalism has received awards in California and Oregon.