Parson orders Missouri state workers back to the office

May 5, 2021 GMT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has directed all state employees to return to in-person work in the office by May 17, after many spent most of the past 14 months working remotely.

Parson’s order, announced Wednesday, also requires that all state buildings be open to the public during normal business hours.

“With COVID-19 vaccines now readily available across the state and virus activity at its lowest levels since early days of the pandemic, we are confident that it is safe to return to pre-COVID-19 work settings and schedules,” Parson, a Republican, said in a news release.

The order appears unusual. Most states have not required employees return to the office.

Parson’s directive impacts roughly a third of state workers. More than 22,400 employees were working on-site as of Wednesday, while about 10,600 were not, according to the Office of Administration spokesman.

The governor’s office said COVID-19 screening and testing protocols will remain in place and the state is encouraging all employees to consider vaccinations.

The state health department reported 454 additional confirmed cases and four more deaths. The state has confirmed 504,069 coronavirus cases and 8,818 deaths since the pandemic began.