(The Center Square) – Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday directed all state employees to return to in-person work no later than Monday, May 17. Gov. Parson, who resisted calls to for a statewide mask mandate throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, ordered all state buildings to be open and accessible to the public during normal business hours.
The directive stated the health and well-being of the state workforce remains a top priority for Parson and his administration. The statement restated there will be no statewide mandates, but encouraged state workers to practice Covid-19 preventative measures. A federal mask mandate was announced in February and remains in effect on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
“Since the start of COVID-19, our state team members have gone above and beyond to keep state government running and continue providing quality public service to Missourians,” Parson said in a statement. “Thanks in large part to their efforts, Missouri is in a strong position, and we continue to move forward each day.”
Parson’s statement emphasized Covid-19 screening and testing protocols will remain in place. The directive reminded state employees of the availability of the vaccine and to use vaccinefinder.org to get immunized. It also stated all state employees should “consider getting vaccinated.”
“With COVID-19 vaccines now readily available across the state and virus activity at its lowest levels since the early days of the pandemic, we are confident that it is safe to return to pre-Covid-19 work settings and schedules,” Parson said.
Parson and his wife, Teresa, tested positive for Covid-19 in September and recovered. The Parsons isolated themselves during the illness, forcing cancellation of a debate with Democratic challenger Nicole Galloway, the Missouri State Auditor, during the 2020 campaign for governor.
“As public servants in state government, it is important that we maintain a front-facing presence for those we serve, and it’s time we take this step towards normalcy for ourselves and the people of Missouri,” Gov. Parson said.
Last month, Dr. Randall Williams, the director of Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services, resigned and Parson appointed his deputy chief of staff as the acting director. Dr. Williams was appointed to the position in 2017 by former Gov. Eric Greitens.