my coworker doesn’t quarantine after flying all over the country

A reader writes:

My office split 60/40 working in the office versus working remotely. Due to my husband’s job in healthcare and my office’s looser adherence to health rules, I’ve continued to work from home.

One of my coworkers, who is in his early 30s, has resumed traveling for fun. A lot. He’s taken 10 trips since October, which have included long-haul flights to higher risk parts of the country and staying over at other people’s homes. He’s stated that he misses seeing people, is in generally good health, and wants to take advantage of discounted flights while there are fewer travelers. Our official office policy is to adhere to state guidelines and quarantine after trips, but that hasn’t been happening, from what I can see over Zoom. The leadership team is back in the office, at least part-time, so they must have at least some awareness of this employee’s weekend activities.

So far, I haven’t said anything when his travel plans come up in conversation. My rationale is that I’m not in the office, but seeing this person share an office (unmasked) with another coworker is a strong deterrent for me to come back. It has also made for some awkward phone calls with clients who aren’t back to “normal” when it comes to travel hearing that this employee “just got back from their neck of the woods.” Thoughts on how to best handle this?

Agh, your coworker. He wants to take advantage of discounted flights while there are fewer travelers. What a delightful member of society he is.

Here’s the good news (maybe): Your office has a policy requiring quarantining after trips. He is not following that policy. You should raise that with someone in authority.

I know you’re thinking that since the leadership team is back part-time, they must know what he’s doing … and if they’re not enforcing the quarantine rules, that must indicate they don’t care. And maybe that’s true. But very often, a rule just isn’t getting enforced because no one has pointed out the problem. Maybe they’re not paying enough attention to know if he’s quarantining or not. Maybe they assume his manager is on it. Maybe they’re thinking, “Ugh, Cecil has always been such an ass” without connecting that to “and I have the power and the obligation to do something about it.” Who knows.

But you should speak up. Talk to your manager, talk to HR, talk to whoever is best positioned in your office to act on it (which is some combination of authority and willingness and Taking Covid Seriously). Say this: “I know our policy requires quarantining at home after out-of-state trips, in line with public health advice. I’m concerned that it’s not happening — for example, Cecil was back in the office right after his recent trips to X and Y, both of which are hotspots for Covid. What can be done to ensure that policy gets followed so we don’t have an outbreak at work?”

If you feel you lack standing to say this because you’re not in the office yourself, I’d argue you do have standing. It affects you if your office has unsafe working conditions and people get sick and/or die. And you could say, “In thinking about when and how I could return to the office, this is very much on my mind.”

As for clients: If a client expresses surprise or concern about Cecil traveling, that’s something you should pass on to your manager too: “Jane at Oatmeal Emporium seemed shocked that Cecil was doing recreational travel during the pandemic, which I guess he mentioned while he was taking her order for groats this morning. How do you want me to handle that?”

It’s possible your office won’t care about any of this. You mentioned their “looser adherence to health rules” and some unmasked colleagues, so maybe they just don’t care. There’s a weird number of companies that don’t. But some do act when pressed (even ones you don’t expect to), so it’s worth raising it and finding out for sure. If it turns out they’re fine with the state of things, it’ll at least be confirmation that you need to continue to work from home.

{ 183 comments… read them below }

  1. Bob*

    I’d also mention that there are at least 10 trips that you know of. Give them a little extra SHTF to chew on.

  2. mf*

    Make sure to mention that your coworker is discussing his travel with clients, because this is an optics nightmare. People care about the ethics of how their vendors are handling the pandemic. (Same thing for job candidates and new employees, who might encounter him in the office.)

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Hell yeah. As a customer, I would very much care. As a job candidate, well, I won’t even GO in your office until you answer my COVID questions in a satisfactory manner. I realize people fudge–I did end up interviewing with a vociferous maskhole that one time–but if I were sitting in the lobby waiting for my interview and saw people breezing in and out without masks, I’d probably cancel it and leave. If a company can’t enforce common sense safety rules, what other toxic dumpster fires lurk beneath the surface?

    2. Observer*

      Very much this.

      It’s not just the ethics. There are many ways that this could rub clients the wrong way.

    3. Smithy*

      Absolutely – I think that even if the office leadership doesn’t care/doesn’t want to police people quarantining, I struggle to imagine them being ok with this kind of external meeting optics.

      1. mf*

        Yep, even if they don’t care about their employees’ safety, they will care if this impacts their bottom line! Maybe that will be enough to get leadership to listen to OP’s concerns.

        1. Smithy*

          I do a lot of external (Zoom) meetings for work, and any time I’ve changed location (visiting my mom, and after I moved) – there’s been a lot of very respectful conversation around that travel, doing it as safely as possible, making sure to quarantine, etc.

          It’s not about creating an illusion that we’ve been under complete lock down, but rather to be respectful of the pandemic, safety, and responsibility. All qualities I’m happy to convey in my external meetings as it is. If I were on a call with someone sharing information externally that made any organization representatives seem otherwise – that impacts my work product. It risks my relationships, and so I will feel comfortable reporting that.

          1. Coenobita*

            Yes! There have been a lot of similar conversations where I work, both within the organization and with partners/stakeholders. Heck, I moved my WFH setup to a different room over the New Year’s long weekend, and I was careful to clarify that I was still in my home, just in front of a different wall!

    4. Quill*

      Yeah, if you’ve got human to human contact with any clients? This is not a good look.

      It’s not a good look regardless, but especially your office sounds like a nice hotspot is brewing.

  3. bribri*

    Ten trips since October works out to every other weekend, good god. I don’t have anything else to add because I’m so taken aback by the irresponsibility of this coworker.

    1. Myrin*

      And who knows when this letter was written! If it’s from early January or so, it’s even more frequently!

    2. CTT*

      I know someone from law school who has been doing exactly this. I almost hope that LW works with her boyfriend and that there’s aren’t two sets of people doing this, but that’s probably too optimistic of me…

      1. PT*

        My husband is a professor, his campus had an outbreak in a dorm at the beginning of Fall semester. He was teaching remotely, and some of his students lived in that dorm, caught COVID, and recovered. Then they started asking him advice for which cities he’d been to that he recommended visiting, because “All our classes are remote and we’re immune to COVID now and flights/hotels are never going to be this cheap again!”

        He was floored.

        1. Chc34*

          One of my students (college level) had COVID last semester. I have her again this semester and she just tested positive again.

            1. Reality Check*

              Yes my coworker just recovered from it and was told by her doctor that she could continue to test positive for 6 months.

            2. Don't Let Your Guard (or Your Mask) Down*

              My friend caught Covid twice; the second time was 8 months after the first infection. It was worse for her the second time around. Some of the new variants, especially the South African one, infect people who’ve had Covid at the same rates as people who have never been infected.

              1. No Longer Looking*

                The important thing to remember folks, is that COVID is a SARS virus. It mutates easily, and the more bodies it is in, the more rapidly it can and will mutate into different strains causing different problems, such as the aforementioned increased chance to re-infect. THAT is the real hell that the lack of leadership in the last year has brought us: If we’d taken COVID-19 seriously from the start we maybe could have kept the strain-count manageable by keeping the number of cases down. If and when these students get COVID-19 back in their systems, even if they fight it off they’re giving it another chance to mutate by doing so.

          1. Mercurial*

            Current thinking (in addition to testing positive for a phase after the infection) is that immunity only lasts 5 months or so after having it. I had it in January and I am continuing to treat my own risk and my risk to others as seriously as I was before. (Infected via child at nursery, which was officially deemed “safe”.)

          2. Not sure of what to call myself*

            You can catch other variants/mutations of the virus. In the UK we test a good proportion for the actual varient and so there are many cases of people catching different mutations within a couple of months

  4. elle_vee*

    A very high level leader in my company has resumed traveling for pleasure and work and asked me if I had any trips scheduled (because I usually travel). I said no and made no offer to join him, which he has invited me to do… he’s in a state that was a hot spot and I’m in a state that values science more so it’s getting awkward. It is terrible to be in that position.

    1. Pennyworth*

      Please return the awkward right back to him. Just say no, ”because Covid”, and let him try to justify what he’s doing.

      1. D3*

        Unfortunately, that’s pretty much an invitation to get a lecture about “not living in fear!”
        (Ive been subjected to three of them this week alone…)

        1. Süleymam the Magnificent*

          Removed. After the earlier comment (also removed), I’m asking you not to comment on this post. – Alison

        2. leapingLemur*

          I’m tired of the “I’m not living in fear” people. Is wearing a seatbelt “living in fear”? Is wearing a helmet while riding a bike “living in fear”? How is this different? OK, a mask can be uncomfortable, and it fogs up my glasses, but it’s way more comfortable than a ventilator.

          I’m also tired of the people who are like “I’m young; I can take changes.” unless those are chances the person is taking because they need to take chances to make a living. Part of why I’m being careful is so that I don’t catch it, part is so I don’t infect and maybe kill anyone.

          1. Julia*

            I actually do see a lot of people not wearing seatbelts or helmets either, even while speeding. Not wearing a mask is like speeding, I guess – you don’t care if you getting what you want (arriving somewhere faster/not wearing a mask) endangers others.

            I’m also young, but I really don’t want to see the inside of a hospital if I can avoid it. And everyone who doesn’t need medical care frees up a bed for someone who does. I do have to go to work though, unfortunately, which requires public transport.

            1. Self Employed*

              I rarely see anyone wearing a bike helmet except Serious Cyclists. People riding bikes in jeans etc probably have bare heads around here.

              1. JustaTech*

                The vast majority of commuter cyclists (and recreational cyclists) in my city wear their helmets, even on the bike paths. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t people of all ages who ride with their helmet clipped to their backpack or handlebars (it’s not a magic talisman! ), but by and large people wear helmets, because it’s the law and there’s a pretty hefty fine.

            2. Tidewater 4-1009*

              A couple of months ago I saw a study from Asia – Thailand, I think – that wearing a mask offers 70% protection for people in the same room as those with covid. I find that very comforting on trains, as there’s always at least one jerk with his mask off. I’ll move as often as necessary to keep distance from them.
              I switched to the express bus and everyone has their mask on, but it is a little more crowded – can’t really maintain six feet distance. They don’t allow the bus to become so crowded that people have to sit next to each other.
              I worked downtown for 2.5 months and stayed healthy… I’m pretty sure I had covid in January 2020 and I’ve been healthy since Feb. 2020. I was tested in October and it was negative.

          2. So long and thanks for all the fish*

            God, young people. My college town has been the (figurative) worst- we’re in the top 50 hot spots in the country AGAIN and still people are in the bars on weekends like nothing is wrong. I tried to get takeout from one last weekend after a late night at work, and boy was that a mistake. I had to wait for about 10 minutes for the bartender to hand me my food (which was sitting there when I arrived) because he was too busy pouring shots. For multiple tables. With the music blasting so loudly I couldn’t hear myself think- just about every “what not to do” in the book. It was one of our favorite places, but I don’t think we’ll be going back. I have KN95s I was using for the grocery store, but I wasn’t wearing them at work until that experience. I am now. I can’t believe how many people are just tired of taking it seriously, so they’ve stopped.

        3. JustaTech*

          A coworker “diagnosed” me with clinical anxiety for being upset at being expected to come in to the lab for “fun lunches”, including lunch with the CEO who had just flown up that morning.

          Yes, please, pathologize my perfectly reasonable concern. /s

  5. Myrin*

    Oooh, I like this: “In thinking about when and how I could return to the office, this is very much on my mind.” very much! It can nicely stave off any questions someone might in the vein of “Well, what do you care, you work from home anyway?”.

  6. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    I WFH but very occasionally have to go into the office. Protocols in place are a temp. check to entire the building, mask required in common areas (breakrooms, hallways, stairwells, elevators, etc) masks if within 6 ft of coworkers in non common areas. Last trip in the office I witnessed 2 unmasked individuals in a small common space. (think elevator or stair well) Another coworker with a mask stated to them that they needed to have masks on and they replied to the masked coworker “So don’t use the Small Enclosed Common Space then”. I reported the unmasked coworkers to my direct boss the very next day. He forwarded the report to their boss. It is not ok to flaunt the rules and endanger others. Period. OP even if you WFH speak up please. Give a voice to the coworkers who are potentially at risk due to non compliance. And who knows at some future point the company may try to end WFH. The people who don’t care about spreading germs during a pandemic aren’t going to care if they pass along Influenza or any other communicable disease. I have not been sick once since the shut down happened. But when I worked in that building I regularly caught stuff from coworkers who won’t stay home when sick.

    1. Sandman*

      My husband is the same, and was starting to go into the office more – until one of his colleagues mentioned on a Monday that he’d been leveled with a fever over the weekend and was still a little sniffly but otherwise fine, just fine, and just wanted to let him know before their meeting. I just about lost my mind over that one. He didn’t so much, but also hasn’t been back to the office again.

  7. ahhh*

    Alison’s advice is amazing to follow as always.

    Where was this question a few months ago? I’m still angry at a somewhat similar situation I experienced a few months ago but on a social level.

    My child is involved in an activity that enforced some very strict restrictions and made a lot of sacrifices so that the kids in surrounding school districts could all attend (this is not through the school). Last summer a mom of a child in my son’s group posted on Facebook about planning a Christmas trip to an area that is very high risk and not following CDC guidelines, in hopes that guidelines will be loosened by then. I get along with this mom as an acquaintance but we lead very very very different lifestyles (my idea of a great afternoon is hiking, hers is in a spa…. nothing wrong with either but are very different ways to relax). This is a mom who posts everything in life on social media all of the sudden got very quiet around the holidays. Even more scary is the activity had a positive exposure and quarantined my child’s group. I have no proof if the family went but I believe they did due to other posts. I think the mom didn’t realize I was part of mutual group online that had everything set to public viewing within that social media platform. Nonetheless I kept my child out of the activity for two weeks in case. I didn’t finger point but I asked the activity what they were doing in general as far as the holidays and possibly increase in risk… the activity did everything it should even closing down and making sure everyone had covid tests before starting up again. I’m just so angry and can’t figure out if it’s because of our different lifestyles and jealousy of a fabulous vacation; or if I’m really ticked off if my predictions were true (again no proof)…. maybe a little of both.

    While not the same, I feel for you OP.

  8. Mental Lentil*

    “What a delightful member of society he is.” — I am loving this level of snark. I know a number of people like this. OP, you have my sympathies.

    Also, wish I the Oatmeal Emporium were a real thing.

  9. 30Something*

    Can you also bypass your work and go to your local health authority? In my country and province, you can be fined for not following travel guidelines and for gathering against the rules. This won’t help the situation at work, but it will send a message.

    1. Dewey Decibal*

      Very much depends on the area- my governor has explicitly banned enforcing covid rules… which is why we’re a hotbed :(

  10. Fiona the Baby Hippo*

    I love people who think they have found some kind of cheat code like “well i miss seeing people!”


    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      This. Exactly this. I’ve been thinking dreamily about how lovely it would be to walk around a shopping mall, and I hate shopping and malls and crowds of people!

      We all miss normal. We all wish this was over. But it’s not, and it’s going to take even longer for this to end if people keep trying to make excuses like this.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      I just started a new job and had to go into the office for the first 2 days. (After the first 2 days, it’s 100% remote.) I did not enjoy wearing a mask for 8 hours. I do not enjoy wearing a mask in general. I do not enjoy not seeing my family. But I would enjoy having a bad case of Covid or the long-term effects of one a LOT less. Sometimes in life, you just have to choose the least bad option and suck it the hell up.
      When I get annoyed with lockdown restrictions, I remember that my great-grandparents were refugees and had to live on a train for 9 months (with 2 small children!) to get to a safe country. And then I wonder what on earth I’m complaining about.

    3. Cat Tree*

      I mean, I really miss visiting family especially over holidays. But if I visit once now and my mom dies, then I’ll REALLY miss visiting her for the rest of my life. If I continue to stay away from her, then I’ll have many more years to visit her.

      This guy’s reasoning is really short-sighted.

      1. COVIDLife*

        Casual comparisons of COVID life to trauma and PTSD can be triggering and are frequently inaccurate. I am not saying it may not be traumatic for some people, particularly those who work in healthcare, but a majority of people are struggling in a way that is not trauma or will not result in PTSD (possibly other issues such as anxiety or depression, but I don’t think throwing those around is great either). You do you, but FYI.

        1. Quill*

          We don’t actually know yet if the “majority” of people are going to come out of this with trauma, but there’s enough people in every natural disaster who do that I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the idea that this is traumatic.

          1. COVIDLife*

            I would say if anything I tried to indicate that it could certainly be traumatic for many people. But there is a difference between “this is hard on me” and “this is trauma.” In general I would say casual comparisons to mental health issues aren’t great.

            1. Tobias Funke*

              What is a “comparison to mental health”? Like, that doesn’t make any sense. Mental health isn’t cordoned off behind velvet ropes. It’s impacted by our experiences. And for many, this is a deeply traumatic experience.

        2. Student Affairs Sally*

          Not all trauma results in PTSD. Just because it doesn’t lead to that particular result doesn’t mean it’s not traumatic.

            1. D3*

              Right. You called it “casual” and “triggering and inaccurate”
              Potato, potahto
              This is trauma for a lot of people. Stop contradicting people who acknowledge that.

        3. Jean*

          Don’t do this. Don’t gatekeep trauma. You have no idea what is or isn’t traumatic for someone else.

        4. D3*

          You know what else is triggering and inaccurate? People who say crap like this to people who just want to acknowledge that this is hard, dangit!
          No one is being casual when they say that. This IS hard. This has impacted pretty much every human being on the planet, and people who think they are the only ones experiencing hardship so that exempts them from regulations and guidance designed to *not kill other people* are just selfish.
          So no, “you do you” isn’t an acceptable attitude. “You do your part to reduce the impact of Covid on others” is where it’s at.
          Anything less than that is pure selfishness.
          This is hard on EVERYONE. Feeling like this is hard does NOT make you an exception.

        5. Tobias Funke*

          LOL witnessing constant crimes against humanity and half a million bodies pile up while being unable to access a lot of support safely isn’t traumatic, good to know

          1. The Original K.*

            Yeah, I wasn’t being flippant when I said trauma. I meant it. I believe the clinical definition of trauma is the response to a deeply disturbing event that affects a person’s ability to cope, and a pandemic that has left half a million dead and counting (which means millions more are grieving, and as someone currently grieving her father – his death was not COVID-related – I’m finding that grief is much harder in the pandemic. It sucked to hold a Zoom memorial and not be able to gather in person and hug and comfort each other) fits that bill.

    4. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      You know what I miss? Having the chance to see my mom on hospice in another state before she dies. People like him can take their excuses and shove them.

    5. mf*

      Yeah, as if the fact that this guy misses seeing people makes him different or special. What an entitled asshole

      1. Quill*

        Especially given that his “seeing people” is multiple nonquarantined trips and then parading around the office maskless.

        (Almost wrote “naked” there)

        He’s not taking any precautions. He’s just a viral vector with delusions of grandeur.

    6. Third or Nothing!*

      I see people all the time! From 10+ feet away, outdoors, as I pass by on my daily walk/run which has been my only (healthy) outlet for stress and anxiety this past year. What I miss more than anything is -not- feeling terrified of someone getting too close and then catching something that will most likely kill my asthmatic self.

    7. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Even if you WERE the only one who’s missed seeing people, that’s as sensible as “I’m tired of waiting at red lights.”

      1. MCMonkeybean*

        Excellent analogy! I sometimes red light thinking “oh my god this has been forEVER, what if I just went anyway??” But then I follow the rules anyway.

  11. Lucious*

    I just ended a Zoom call with a client.

    A client working from home who stated he’s trying to stay healthy so he can take his son to the league sports tournament.

    Which is held in person 4 states away.

    At this point, if multiple Federal agencies, global travel restrictions, billions in lost economic revenue, 500k+ dead, likely millions suffering from various long term complications isn’t enough to encourage people to take this outbreak seriously nothing I say, type, or yell is gonna make a difference.

    1. hbc*

      I think what I find most astonishing is that people are just openly talking about how unsafe they are. We all know lots of people pick their noses or drive when they’ve had a few too many drinks, but the vast majority know you don’t admit that in polite society.

      I will admit here to not always having made the correct, unselfish choice regarding optional interactions, but I have the sense to not go broadcasting it when I do.

        1. The Original K.*

          Yeah, folks could just NOT post the pictures from the maskless party in the club on social media.

          1. Miss Betty*

            There’s a couple I know socially who had covid a few months ago and a while later the wife posted that masks don’t help because they never went anywhere without a mask but still got sick. But they’d posted plenty of photos before they got sick of them eating inside restaurants and visiting their daughter in another state. A restaurant is somewhere and your family member’s house that you don’t live in is somewhere! Of course they went places without masks and posted photos showing it – but I think they truly do not see it that way. (I didn’t respond to her post because I don’t know them well enough to get into it, but several months later I’m still rolling my eyes if it comes to mind.)

            1. Grace Poole*

              It is amazing how people insist that they’re socially distancing and not going anywhere, while also admitting that they eat in restaurants and get haircuts and manicures and visiting family and shopping in lots of stores. All of that is somewhere!

              1. cncx*

                Friend of a friend died of Covid, it was sad and horrible, and the husband of the victim did ask that people wear masks to a socially distanced funeral and that he didn’t want anyone to wind up like his wife.
                the mutual friend of ours posted funeral pics. they ate a meal together and there are about a dozen pics of group photos with no masks and hugging, like literally people sitting in each others’ laps. It was heartbreaking.

                1. MCMonkeybean*

                  A local musician died of covid, and a bunch of people put together a memorial concert to raise money for his family. There were pictures later showing the memorial concert with a much-too crowded area full of people who had taken their masks off to eat, and of course the band is up on a stage (in this small space) singing out into the crowd without wearing masks.

                  What a great way to honor someone, by holding an event with a high risk of spreading the very disease that killed them…

      1. sofar*

        Yeah, I’d call myself “more cautious than many, less cautious than many others.”

        Between my husband’s family business shutting down and having a family crisis a 14-hour drive away, I’ve had to fly and/or drive to “hot spots” more than I’d like during all of this. And, yes, we took a road trip for fun and stayed in cabins. I realize all of that is bad optics for a lot of coworkers and clients, though, so I say NOTHING about any of this and always have made sure to use fake Zoom backgrounds, just in case people notice that I’m not in my home, or that I’m at a hotel. I have too many coworkers who have been caring for older relatives and have to eliminate virtually all risk from their lives, to brag about “being out of town.”

        Why Cecil is bragging about this and explaining “why” he’s doing it is beyond me.

    2. PT*

      My city just had an interstate youth sports tournament, 40,000 participants and spectators. The CDC and the local health department pre-flagged it as a “potential superspreader event” and they still held it.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        And I’m sitting at home, hitting the treadmill to stay fit, and haven’t blown a whistle since early March.

        You want to see amateur sports doing it right? Anyone involved in the Peach Town Scrum Down had the book thrown at them.

    3. Artemesia*

      My BIL and SIL were exposed via a niece on a travel sports team — this was last March and people were a little less aware. He has still not recovered and his wife was weeks more or less recovering. Kids often don’t show symptoms but they sure can spread it around. The niece sickened her own parents and her brother who gave it to my BIL who tutors him and my SIL. She was fine herself.

    4. some dude*

      We have been running on a broken ankle, metaphorically, for months. It is maddening.

      The South African and UK variants are in the U.S. HOW ARE THEY IN THE U.S?!?! How, a year into this, are we still allowing intercontinental cross-contamination???? Why did the CDC just lift (optional) quarantine requirements for travel. WHY IS ANYONE TRAVELING IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!!???????? (I know a several people who have traveled, mostly for good reasons, so I guess there is SOME reason).

      But mostly, we can’t imagine shutting our economy down for the weeks it would take to actually nip this thing in the bud, and we all decide that half a million dead is worth it so that airlines and restaurants and hotels don’t go bankrupt, I guess? And they are still fighting about what kind of relief, if any, the federal government is going to offer. Maddening. Sorry for the rant.

      1. Rara Avis*

        One of my students traveled halfway around the world for the holidays, leaving before classes ended and planning to be back before they resumed. We are still full WFH, but I got several frantic emails from his mother — upon arrival, he couldn’t come to class because the wifi in the quarantine hotel was bad. Then he got stranded when his return flight was canceled and missed class for a week because of the time difference. I have a hard time wondering what she expected to happen when she sent her kid on a trip in the middle of a global pandemic. (It wouldn’t have been such a big deal for me if she hadn’t been trying to make it my problem.)

      2. leapingLemur*

        I keep wondering if COVID-19 would be over by now if we all really, really quarentined for a month.

            1. armchairexpert*

              But Italy let people travel in from other countries, right? I know this because I have a US friend who decided to take a trip to Italy in September (which, do not get me started). Of course you can’t wipe it out if you’re going to invite in visitors!

              NZ and Australia (and some others) just aren’t opening their borders, and impose strict two-week quarantine periods for those who absolutely have to come in. In hotels. Under guard. None of this ‘trusting people to do the right thing’.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      As a non-American who lived in America for 17 years, I continue to be amazed by how much importance upper and middle-class Americans place on youth sports tournaments. Especially when people are much more likely to spend more $$ schlepping their kid around to out-of-state tournaments than they will get from any eventual college scholarship … assuming your kid even gets a scholarship and doesn’t end up injured, burned out or hating the sport they play.

      1. Black Horse*

        As an American who has lived in America all my life, I also continue to be amazed by how much importance upper and middle-class Americans place on youth sports tournaments. My community is a hotbed for that attitude and it’s bizarre for all the reasons you mention. That being said, a friend of mine has kids who do travel soccer, and she loves it. The whole family is involved (both her boys play) and they and their boys have created some great friendships from the experience. Her kids are excellent students, so won’t have any trouble getting into good schools, so for them it’s about the experience as it stands, not just for scholarship purposes. I haven’t talked to her in a while so don’t know if they’re playing now; they’re in CA so I’m assuming not, but…

        1. Takes two to tango*

          As an American who has lived outside of America for much of my career, I continue to be amazed at how Europeans express this kind of sanctimonious attitude while simultaneous tolerating football hooliganism to the extent that you have to have rows of police line the footpath from the stadium to the train station after matches. (No joke, I’ve had this happen in Southampton, Madrid, and Lukhniki.)

          It made national news when some Dodger fan beat a Giants fan at a baseball game in LA a few years ago. That would likely be old hat in Europe. Maybe high school sports actually provide a constructive outlet for this kind of aggression? And it’s not as though youth club sports are non-existent in places like Germany.

          I was in a bar at the last World Cup where a fight broke out (apparently over who was next in line to use the loo) and someone literally hit someone else over the head with a bar stool, like in a Hollywood movie. My recollection was that the parties to this spectacle were French and Argentine, but I could be mis-remembering. They sure weren’t Americans, though.

          High school sports, and other extracurriculars, in the US have their positives and negatives. I suspect that in short term they depress test scores; I suspect that in the long run, they build leadership skills. And sports are fun for the participants. That is why most kids are playing sports, not out of the hope of scholarships.

  12. Aggretsuko*

    Only a few coworkers are approved to go into the office, and one of them takes weekend trips pretty frequently. I don’t think they’ve ever had her quarantine-heck, she’s physically in office today and just got back from another trip yesterday. But we have no quarantine office policy, so…. there you go. They have to get tested at least 1-2x/week and she wears a mask and there’s probably only 2 others in with her at any time and they try to not be in the same spaces as far as I know, and I’m not in office so it doesn’t affect me, but….sigh.

    Honestly, it feels like there’s nothing you can do if others don’t have a problem with it.

  13. MommyMD*

    If you go back to work in the office, double mask. It’s very effective. I’ve been around Covid every single work day since before they IDd it. We knew something was happening with all the fevers and flu type illness that were testing negative to Influenza A and B. I’ve long since learned we cannot control the movements of our coworkers. I just protect myself.

      1. No Name #1*

        double masking an N95 is not necessary as far as I am aware (my mother works in healthcare and wears an N95 at all times at work). The CDC guidelines are currently to either wear an N95 or two surgical masks- one of them can be fabric but the other should be one of the disposable surgical masks. I personally have been wearing two surgical masks at work since December. I work in retail and while it was uncomfortable the first few days, I got used to it quickly and now it feels weird if I only have one mask on. When I asked my mom about N95s, she said that ordering them online is really a crapshoot because with her medical grade N95, she had to get fitted for it. If they don’t fit properly, they are less effective and you might as well be wearing the surgical ones.

      2. Ads*

        I looked on slickdeals and recently ordered a 100 pack of korean KF94 masks for $88 from one of the popular deals. The design (it’s a horizontal “boat” style, unlike the vertical-fold KN95s) seems to cover more of my face and hopefully seal a bit better than surgical masks. (Obviously caveat emptor on the authenticity, but quality appears good and I figure even if it turns out to be a fake, the better fit/seal alone has to make it better than a standard mask)

        1. Julia*

          I just got a few of those to try out, and they feel really sturdy. I use a connector behind my head to get a tight fit without hurting my ears. Is the fit tight enough if my glasses don’t fog up?

          Maybe I’ll try double masking with cloth and surgical too, but the last time I did that, my students kept making fun of me, and while I don’t mind that, it was a little disruptive because I have a lesson to get through. (And actually, I do mind in principle, because I started doing it because of people with their noses out around me, including the one kid who mocked me the most.)

      3. Magc*

        This place seems to be the real deal; they were mentioned in a NYTimes article and in an interview on WGBH (Boston’s public radio station):

        Costco and Best Buy sell these which are supposed to be certified KN95 equivalent:

        It’s been a real pain trying to buy real N95 masks, and after a year, the N95 masks we happened to have prior to the pandemic make me nervous. I was happy to be able to get some reasonably priced masks for when I go into stores, especially since double-masking for me meant a surgical mask and my old N95 (no cloth masks). I also have the braces from, but they’re not as comfortable as the KN95 masks.

  14. Pockey*

    If there is an established rule that he must quarantine after trips and isn’t doing so and coming into the office then that is something you need to address with the management as he is breaking office rules. However if WFH is possible at your company and for his job function perhaps its better this coworker stays WFH if they like taking trips. That is something you can suggest too. There’s also various politics and opinions around this too so it should be treated as “politics” and he shouldn’t be speaking about it to clients/vendors (however because this is new and normally would be perfectly fine he probably didn’t pick up on that).

    Whatever you do I would focus less on the morals/ethics around whether he should or shouldn’t be traveling and stick to the rules of your office. Although you may personally feel people should be taking certain levels of quarantine precautions unfortunately we aren’t consistent with it in the US. I live in NYC and while restaurants just opened, for a long while they were closed but you could literally take a 20 min train to Jersey and go to bars, eat out, etc. In Miami you can go clubbing with 100s of people now. Unfortunately everyone has to look out for themselves in terms of what they are comfortable with.

    Address the issues at hand in terms to quarantining and vendors but what he does in his own time, is his own time.

  15. Can't Sit Still*

    A co-worker went to Mexico last week and mocked her mother for being “too scared” to travel with her. She just has to travel while it’s cheap! OTOH, since she was one of the people bragging about coming to work with 100+F temperature a year ago, I don’t trust her judgement in general.

            1. KaciHall*

              I think I’ve just grown up too poor. I can’t imagine someone having a job where they can afford both a spontaneous trip to cancun AND the time away from the office.

  16. Sparkles McFadden*

    The best way to come at this would be to start out with a statement as to how clients expressed dismay/concern/confusion: “One of the clients asked about Cecil traveling…” and then launch into the “I just want to be sure the covid guidelines are still be followed.” This way, it’s not one employee complaining about another employee, but a concerned employee looking out for the company.

    Sadly, the idea of looking bad to clients will likely be taken more seriously than oh, say, doing something that might kill your coworkers.

    1. Dasein9*

      Right? I’m not missing people as much as many folks I know because, well, I’m seeing just how awful people are.

      1. Exhausted Trope*

        Oh, gosh yes! I’m not a people person, either, but when I read about the actions of some segments of society being so self-centered…. SMH. Sad commentary on the human race.

      2. HigherEdAdminista*

        I am right there with you. I miss my people, but I do not miss being out and about with society because while I know there are a ton of good and trustworthy people out there, I have also learned that there are a ton of people who aren’t.

        When cases were at their lowest where I live, I chose to participate in one, outdoor, masked and distanced activity (apple picking) for the sake of a child in my bubble who has given up everything else. It was good and not many people were there; 99% those who were there were following the rules. But we did see some groups at a distance who had happily shed their masks, even though other masked folks were around them. They were taking tons of photos in the path of people trying to walk, laughing loud and yelling conversations. It was like they thought this was their orchard and the rules and common manners didn’t apply to them.

        This guy sounds exactly the same way. This has been an opportunity for him. He doesn’t view himself as being at risk, and so it probably has literally never even crossed his mind that he could infect someone or kill someone he doesn’t even know about for his weekend trips. All the matters is he got what he wanted.

      3. Llama face!*

        I’m missing liking and having a baseline respect for people. :'( So many disappointments this past year and not all who I’d have guessed. It’s another kind of loss on top of all the losses we’ve collectively had.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’ve learned some things I’ll never be able to unlearn about some of the people in my life, and it makes me immeasurably sad.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        A friend of a friend lost her mother to covid. Her mother was at risk, so shielded and never left the house and didn’t see anyone outside her two person household for months.

        The friend’s father, continued to move gaily through life with abandon. And killed his wife by bringing the virus home. The friend is devastated on multiple fronts because while she loves her father, she cannot deal with being anywhere near him right now.

        And I’ve heard multiple stories like this.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I live with a family member in a high risk category, and bringing covid home to them has been my biggest fear this entire time. I can’t work from home, so work is literally the only place I go. I’m so sorry for your friend. I can’t imagine how she’s feeling right now.

          1. LDN Layabout*

            I’m sorry you’re in the position that you are :/ I hate that the support isn’t there everywhere for those who should be shielding due to a fellow household member’s vulnerability.

            It’s a weird situation because even with the conflicting feelings she’s relieved her father hasn’t realised or quite clicked yet /how/ her mother got covid and she hopes he doesn’t ever.

      2. Third or Nothing!*

        Me too. I’ve actually cut ties with some social circles because of how carelessly they’ve handled the pandemic, despite knowing full well that at least one of their members (me) is high risk. If they can’t be bothered to adhere to COVID safety guidelines at social gatherings just so I can attend, well then that tells me all I need to know about how much they actually value me.

    3. Tbubui*

      I feel you. I didn’t have much faith in people before the pandemic but now it’s worse than ever. I no longer have faith that people will do the right thing in any situation if it even slightly inconveniences them. As a high risk young person it’s really driven home the message that people with disabilities don’t matter to a lot of people. We’re a drain on society and so deserve to die of a preventable disease just because people don’t want to wear a mask. /rant.

      OP, I’m sorry you’re going through this but I’m glad you’re able to work from home safely. If you are able to speak up to management, please do. Alison has given some great advice here. Even if management doesn’t do anything, at least you’ll have made your concerns known and management might be forced to do something if other employees and clients make complaints too.

      1. some dude*

        Seeing large swathes of the population (especially people who identify as “pro-life”) openly declare that old people and at-risk folks dying is NBD has been a helluva thing.

        I was most struck by the armed protests by white folks that happened in Michigan demanding the state reopen which happened right after it was revealed that it was mostly black people that were dying of COVID. They were like, cool, cool, I need to get my hair cut.

    4. had it*

      Me too -people need to keep their mouths shut. you have NO IDEA what the person next to you has been doing – but damn IF you do then you get the pitchforks. Everyone just needs to STFU.

    5. meyer lemon*

      At the risk of sounding pollyannaish, I’ve really revised how I look at other people (en masse) in the last few years, and it makes it easier for me to understand this kind of behaviour. I’ve mostly learned that it often doesn’t make sense to expect people to behave rationally or with ethical consistency (an Enlightenment-era theory of human behaviour), and that trust, social context and emotion play a much bigger role in driving decision-making than we like to believe. This makes it sound like I’ve just learned to embrace chaos, but I actually find it comforting to understand what does drive people.

      1. mf*

        Totally agree. I have also come to believe that most people are driven by pure self interest. This is sad, but it has given me an even stronger appreciation for the people in my life who will sacrifice their own comfort for the good of others.

        1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          It’s not as simple as pure self-interest, though. Trying to avoid catching Covid, and trying to avoid giving it to the people I love if I do become infected, is in my interest. That’s a level of self-interest that’s easier for people to see than the fact that endangering doctors, nurses, EMTs, respiratory therapists, and other health care workers means I might have a harder time getting medical care a year from now.

          There’s a lot of denial going on: all the people who think they’re safe because they ‘aren’t seeing anyone” except family, when “family” doesn’t mean “our otherwise isolated household,” but an unmasked gathering of a few dozen relatives, some of whom may then go to a gathering with a different dozen people from the other side of their family…

        2. leapingLemur*

          The thing is, I’m being careful because of self interest. I don’t want to catch it, I don’t want to give it to anyone, and the sooner this nasty virus goes away (or becomes much, much less deadly), the better.

    6. Huttj*

      There was a restaurant my family went to a few years ago we liked.

      Recently was in the state news for violating “no indoor dining” regulations, and meeting inspectors with armed resistance.

      We’ll fine somewhere else to eat out on the coast when I can travel cross country again. If nothing else makes one wonder what *other* regulations they’re ignoring because “government can’t tell us what to do.”

  17. hbc*

    Please say something. As much as management should be better than this, they might also be interpreting that everyone is fine with the situation and not want to make waves. They might also be hiding behind plausible deniability–an email record of someone saying, “Here’s this infection vector running loose in your facility” will get someone worried about a potential lawsuit off their rear.

  18. Dog Coordinator*

    This is my boss, the owner of the small biz I work for. She has flown from the northeast US (where we live) to Florida (to go to one of the theme parks there, no less) as part of a training (that didn’t HAVE to happen, she signed up mid pandemic for said out of state training to bolster her knowledge), has driven to multiple states nearby for overnight/weekend trips with different groups of people, and is planning a cross country flight next month. I have no ability to tell her anything because she’s also a narcissist and wouldn’t listen to me anyway! Fortunately, I’m WFH, and any time she offers for me to work from her home, I vaguely answer with a “maybe at some point but just trying to keep myself safe”. It’s SO infuriating to me to watch her travel, even if she’s doing it as safely as possible and getting tested regularly. She’s treating covid tests like a way around the travel restrictions, like getting tested makes it perfectly fine. All of us want to travel and see our families and go on vacation!!

    1. BubbleTea*

      I haven’t seen a single member of my family since 2019. I’ve left the county I live in twice – once to get a covid test because that was the closest place, and the other time to collect a table I bought online. Now, I wouldn’t even do the table collecting. I can’t imagine how I’ll adjust back to leaving the house without worrying, even when this is all over. I don’t understand how people can be so relaxed about it now!

  19. Archaeopteryx*

    “He’s stated that he misses seeing people…”
    -We all do. Your motivation is not a justification of your actions.

    “…is in generally good health…”
    If ‘giving half a rip about other people’ isn’t his bag, maybe he should read up on some of the young, healthy people who have died or become disabled due to Covid. Or maybe he should stay home and watch Sesame Street until he DOES start to care about other people.

    “..and wants to take advantage of discounted flights while there are fewer travelers.”
    Yes, why wait until pleasure travel is no longer a sh**y thing to do? Act now, and you can save a few bucks while simultaneously confirming to your friends that you’re just as self-centered as they thought you were!

    Sorry, I know everyone else is bagging on this guy too and I have nothing to add to the advice. I’m just at the end of my chain with people like this.

    1. Quinalla*

      Seriously, it is one thing if you are in good health and decide to take more risks for YOURSELF. I know people who are taking more risks than me, but they are only taking risks for themselves as they live alone or their COVID pod that is all ok with the more risky behavior. But to be super risky and then ignore quarantine and go maskless indoors with others!?! I mean, I get it, some just don’t believe COVID is that big of a deal, don’t care enough to inconvenience themselves, whatever but ugh people are really disappointing me. Just wear your damn mask and try to keep 6′ minimum and we’d have so many less deaths :(

      1. Huttj*

        Part of the issue is, well…

        I live alone. If I increase my own risks, I also increase the risks of those I interact with. The cashier at the market, anyone I interact with for those “increased risks,” etc.

        If I get sick, I am not an island, even though I’m very isolated compared to many. If I can keep this “node” of myself from risking infecting others, I will.

    2. virago*

      “… is in generally good health …”

      This bugged the hell out of me, too.

      A dozen women on the US Rowing Team caught COVID from their physical therapist about a year ago, before masking regulations were in place and when the guidance was contradictory. The PT had what seemed like cold-like symptoms, but a colleague insisted that he isolate and get tested. When he tested positive, the rowers went through the same routine.

      One of them, Emily Regan, gave a lot of interviews to underscore that although neither she nor her teammates were hospitalized, COVID still can. Kick. Your. Ass. Sideways.

      Regan is 32, a four-time world champion in her ninth year on the US team and an Olympic gold medalist, and it took her a month to feel back to normal after she got sick and over three months to get back into competitive shape.

      1. allathian*

        There are triathlonists who have completed Iron Man competitions who have long covid and 6 months after getting sick can barely walk a mile.

        Even if you’re young, fit and healthy, it can change your life permanently.

    3. Self Employed*

      I know someone from church who is VERY extroverted and she is nearly frantic over not being able to interact with people.

      She’s also alt-med and anti-vaxx and is pretty sure she had COVID and recovered back when tests were scarce and if you didn’t need to be hospitalized, you wouldn’t get tested.

      SHE STILL DOES ALL THE RIGHT THINGS. If she really really gets tired of walks around the block (masked) and gardening socially distanced and masked in a community garden, she drives to the beach and walks there, masked and socially distancing.

  20. Anonya*

    I am a parent who hates youth sports culture so, so much. Always have. And yet I thought that maayyybe the pandemic would tamp down this insistence that sports > than literally everything else, including human lives. I was wrong. So wrong. My FB feed is full of pictures of kids doing unmasked basketball tournaments, cheer competitions, and who knows what else.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        I have seen this too and it is just insane. I asked one acquaintance “So, you’re OK with your kids grappling with other kids in the middle of a pandemic?” He said “That’s pretty much over with and kids can’t get it anyway.” Then he went on about how it wasn’t fair that he couldn’t go watch the tournament.

        There are so many people I just cannot talk to anymore.

        1. leapingLemur*

          Do they not read the news?! Kids can get it. They can spread it. Usually they don’t get it badly, but some kids have died of it.

    1. Quinalla*

      Yeah, this has been so frustrating to me. So many parents of my kids’ friends are like “Yeah, my kid isn’t doing girl scouts this year, too busy with soccer, swimming, ballet…” and I’m just like WTF? Outdoor sports I kind of get, I’m not comfortable with them, but I get that some are, but indoor stuff I just am floored. I’m also one only a couple of parents in our girl scout troop that continues to politely opt out of anything in person. They are wearing masks for things and so far it has all been outside, but still, I’m just not risking it and they just recently asked if people want to do inside stuff masked.

      1. Not Australian*

        Yeah, I can see some sports still being possible – golf, archery, shooting, anything where there is no contact between the participants and they can maintain some physical distance – but otherwise it’s just asking for trouble. And, where I live, we’re not even allowed to ‘travel to exercise’; I’d love to go walking, but I’d have to take a bus to get to anywhere worth going – and although ‘nobody would know’, I just don’t feel it’s a sensible option at this stage.

    2. Llama face!*

      Yeah, our premier is all about the “oh noes the poor sports-deprived children” as if that is the only thing that matters. As if there aren’t plenty of non-sporty and too-poor-for-hockey families or as if there is literally nothing else kids can do with their time. The sports idolatry is high in my region. You’d think they would realize how they are crippling their children by making their lives dependent on a single activity and not helping them build creativity and resilience when life changes, but nope.
      Apparently these people think no group sports events for kids is more traumatic than their grandparents dying. Smh.

    3. Julia*

      Right? Germany is testing highly paid soccer players (who could afford to sit out a season or two) so the masses can have their soccer games, but already underpaid artists and musicians are suffering. What the hell.

      1. allathian*

        That said, they’re still playing for empty stadiums.

        Most performers earn the majority of their pay by doing gigs, and live performances are tough to do safely. You’re sitting or standing right next to strangers, and if it’s a rock concert, usually singing and yelling along. I know there’s at least one band who did a few gigs with the audience in individual sealed air bubbles, but it wouldn’t work for most artists.

        That said, I do think that culture is essential to mental health and I can’t wait until it’s safe to go to a gig again.

        In my area, kids have had soccer practice outdoors in -20 C/-5 F weather. Competitions have been canceled except for professional sports. It’s not the same, but physically distanced exercise is better than none.

        1. Self Employed*

          I was so happy this morning to see the news that the US has a new grant program for performers, venues, etc. to pay salaries and expenses during the pandemic.

  21. Janie*

    My parents live in Hawaii, which has very low COVID numbers, and my mom has asked a few times if I wanted to go stay with them until this whole thing blows over. I pointed out to her that I do not trust one bit the type of person who is flying to Hawaii at this time, much less a whole plane full of them.

    1. had it*

      I would definitely go to Hawaii right now. You have to have a negative test and if you arrive without one and no solid plans for quarantine they send you home!!! They will also come find you and arrest you.

      1. Homo neanderthalensis*

        So sure- but say a bunch of entitled folks come anyways sans negative test and are sent home and ARE positive- I’ve still sat on a plane with them for hours and hours. I mean I guess it would be nice to know as I drown in my own lungs in the hospital that the folks who infected me were arrested after the fact but it’s a cold comfort. Honestly- I’d consider the behavior of Cecil a firing offense- especially since clients know about it.

    2. A*

      Yup! I had a similar situation come up a few weeks ago when I was invited to go stay with family in Hawaii. Not only do I not trust the other travelers, but I also would never forgive myself if I ended up being The Plague Bringer (I would of course isolate for 2 weeks prior and take a test – but still, you never know).

      1. anon for this*

        Same here – my family’s also off on Some Island Barely Affected, and I haven’t seen them since 2019. I live in a major hot spot, and have been too afraid that I could be the one to contaminate my home island. Going to wait until things are a lot more…over.

      2. allathian*

        Most airlines are stringent about enforcing mask wearing, and the way air circulates in a plane, ceiling to floor, and is exchanged completely every 6 to 10 minutes, it’s probably the safest way to travel with strangers.

        That said, the mere optics of traveling for pleasure are such that I wouldn’t consider it.

        1. Metadata minion*

          This would be reassuring if you could teleport from your house to the plane without having to go through the airport, TSA screening, possibly a taxi or public transportation to *get* to the airport…

  22. Hiring Mgr*

    It sounds like Cecil’s pretty open about all this so why not just ask him if quarantining, etc has even come up at all? At least you’ll sort of know how things stand going into any convos you have with a manager or HR.

    I’d still say something, but if this has been blatant and nobody’s said anything, it could be one of those places that just doesn’t care for whatever reason.

  23. Sandangel*

    People like this make me do angry dinosaur screeches. Same as those reopening ads that show people wearing masks at theme parks and casinos.

      1. Sandangel*

        Even if I could afford a weekend trip to Vegas/Hawaii/etc. (Nope), I only leave the house for my essential job or groceries. I’m definitely not travelling long distance, let me hunker down in peace, please!

  24. voyager1*

    You have no physical contact with this person, you say yourself you work from home. All you have heard and seen is from over Zoom.

    I would not bring this up unless I was working in the office. It sounds like your management knows what he is doing.

    1. leapingLemur*

      He sounds quite likely to infect other co-workers, which could kill them or seriously hurt them, and he’s alienating clients, which could affect revenue, which can cause layoffs. Maybe management could be reminded of that?

  25. MBK*

    Serial flagrant rulebreakers count on the unwillingness of other people to call them out, and they especially count on nobody being willing to be the *first* to call them out. Be the one.

    The level of selfishness and casual disregard for others is remarkable.

    1. JustaTech*

      Serious question: what do you do when the person doing the unnecessary travel is the CEO?

      My company got a new CEO in the middle of COVID and he’s traveled to all of our sites multiple times. All three of our sites are at least partially open because we make a medical treatment. But there’s no reason why he has to travel across the country to do in-person visits, if only because the people who are on-site are the lowly workers, not senior management. He also just moved to another state, so even when he’s at his main office he’s had to travel for it.

      Like, I get that he wants the in-person time, but why can’t he respect that this is a pandemic?

      The most recent time he came to my site our safety head and the head of the other two sites, and the director of HR were all horrified (mostly by his demand that we all eat lunch together), but it didn’t make any difference. I don’t know that the VP of HR said anything, and I think he’s the only other senior person who might have the ability/rank to call out the CEO.

      And then the CEO was Very Disappointed that someone had gone in to work with COVID symptoms. Hypocrite.

  26. leapingLemur*

    I haven’t been out much (like most people), and I usually get curbside takeout for groceries, but when I have been out, I’ve been impressed by how many people are wearing masks, mostly trying to social distance, and generally being kind.

    I hope the majority of people are like this, and the reason we remember the obnoxious ones is because they’re being loud and obnoxious.

  27. Trixie, the Great and Pedantic*

    It really seems like the client angle might be the best one to push here, as the one they’re likely to care about. If your gallivanting co-worker is making the company look bad through his traveling, that’s more likely to cause the higher-ups to take action than any concern about the peons in their employ. (Sorry.)

  28. Essess*

    For this comment — “seeing this person share an office (unmasked) with another coworker ” — make sure to reach out to the other coworker and let them know that he just returned from traveling without quarantining. The coworker needs to be made aware that they are currently at risk so they can take precautions.

  29. Lemon Ginger Tea*

    I have a similar situation, but it’s my boss who does the traveling. It’s for work and we’re technically an essential business, but our office hasn’t set any guidelines w/r/t quarantining and/or testing after traveling out of our region (both driving and air travel). And even though we’re an essential business, some of this travel could be avoided, like an in-person meeting when it could be done via zoom, and most of our work *can* be done remotely, but we’ve been encouraged to keep coming into the office. Some people are very courteous and conscientious about testing and staying home as needed after travel, and others aren’t.

    We recently had a person come into our office who later tested positive for covid and the boss sent around an email detailing who should quarantine and for how long… he was one of the people who needed to, but he broke his own guidelines by coming into the office earlier than recommended, and called around to everyone after he’d arrived to ‘check’ that people were ok with it. :-|

    I’ve heard from just about everyone in the office who is bothered by the boss’s behavior and flouting his own guidelines, and we all realize that the reason we don’t have set guidelines about testing/quarantining after travel is that it would most inconvenience the boss. No one feels empowered to speak up to him about it, but many of us have insisted on working from home for now, to mixed reactions. It’s not great.

  30. not neurotypical*

    OP 5: In my state, COVID regulations require each employer (and each work site, if there are more than one) to appoint a safety officer, who might or might not be someone who is usually in charge of things. Our small nonprofit, for example, chose our most painstaking rule-follower for that role, which required an online training. In her regular capacity, she supervises part of the staff. As our COVID safety officer, she has the authority to order anyone — including CEO, board members, volunteers, and all staff, whether or not they usually report to her — to mask up, quarantine, or whatever. If your state is similar, then there might be someone whose specific job it is to mandate and enforce compliance. You could start by asking your boss who has been delegated COVID-related authority.

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