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Over the course of the last 15 months, restaurants transitioned to takeout only, grocery stores set limits on the number of customers allowed in at one time, and many businesses and offices made masks mandatory. But as COVID cases dwindle and vaccination numbers climb, these policies and restrictions are starting to be phased out—including at the White House, which appears to be reversing one of its major COVID policies next month.
According to multiple reports, the White House is inviting all employees back to work in-person in July. Those who work at the offices of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sent a memo advising them that they "will transition to full time on campus work during the window of July 6 to July 23," Axios first reported on June 1, after obtaining a copy of the memo. (Best Life reached out to the White House to confirm the report, but did not immediately receive a response.)
Forbes reports that around 80 to 90 percent of White House employees are currently working from home, and according to Axios, there will be some exceptions to the transition. "Any staffer with an extenuating circumstance that makes working in person not possible may, in consultation with their manager, continue to work remotely until those circumstances change," Axios says the memo states.
It won't be an abrupt end to working from home, either. An administration official told Axios that each federal agency will have to develop its own plan for a phased in-person return to work for their employees.
This is a change from the White House's stance last month. After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rolled back mask recommendations for fully vaccinated people both indoors and outdoors, the White House's Office of Management and Budget sent federal agencies an email in mid-May saying that "maximum telework and workplace occupancy limits" would remain in place, Government Executive reported. The Washington Post also reported on May 24 that the Biden administration had been working on plans to offer permanent remote work for some federal employees.
Right after Biden took office in January, his administration mandated that no federal workplace should be operating at an in-person occupancy of more than 25 percent of normal capacity, "unless it is physically impossible or poses a threat to critical national security interests." The Jan. 24 mandate stated: "As a general principle, every effort will be made to maximize the use of remote work during widespread community transmission."
However, it also stated that the 25-percent capacity limit was to be followed during "periods of significant or high community transmission"; it's not clear whether or not the transition to in-person work next month will end this capacity limit altogether.