Photo: China News Service / Wang Fan
The United Nations headquarters in New York is ready for re-opening as from Tuesday, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Guterres on Friday issued new guidance related to the next phase of returning to work at the UN headquarters, which has been closely guided by the authorities in New York State, said the spokesman.
"We received new guidelines that, as of today, UN headquarters in New York has met the requirements to re-open fully for in-person business," he told a regular press briefing.
Daily occupancy limits have now been lifted and all personnel who have been working remotely are expected to return to the workplace, regardless of their vaccination status, he said.
"As we have said many times, the safety and health of UN personnel and delegates are our number one priority -- and journalists, of course. We will follow, but not lead, the loosening of restrictions by New York City and (New York) State," he said.
By swiping UN passes, staff and others are confirming that they have not tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 10 days and have not had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 in the last 10 days. For unvaccinated people, swiping their badges means that they have not had close contact with a person with COVID-19 in the last 10 days, said Dujarric.
Out of an abundance of caution, however, all people will be required to wear masks indoors in common areas on UN premises, he said.
In mid-March 2020, Guterres ordered all staffers at the UN headquarters in New York, unless their physical presence is indispensable for essential services, to work from home to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The initial daily occupancy limit was between 200 and 300, compared with some 11,000 people who would normally enter the UN premises per day before the pandemic.
The UN headquarters in New York was shut down to the general public and guided tours were suspended in mid-March. The premises will remain closed to visitors, at least until Oct. 1, 2021, said Dujarric.