REBNY and Others Create New COVID Guidelines for Post-Labor Day Return to Office

The guidelines by REBNY, SEIU 32BJ and other groups advise routinely disinfecting shared spaces and wearing masks if you are unvaccinated

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The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), alongside several other local organizations, issued new guidelines for protecting people from COVID-19 in office buildings as more people are expected to head back to the office after Labor Day, Commercial Observer has learned.

The guidelines instruct building visitors to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations to routinely clean and disinfect locker rooms and break rooms, encourage social distancing in locker and break rooms, provide those who are not fully vaccinated with face coverings, and provide employees with regular opportunities to wash their hands.

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It also instructs employers to allow any person — regardless of vaccination status — to wear a face mask and not to discriminate against those who decide to keep their face covering to inhibit the spread of COVID-19.

“As New York City moves forward on the path to long-term recovery, the ongoing return of office workers is driving a spirit of optimism and much-needed economic activity that will continue to increase over the coming months,” REBNY President James Whelan said in a statement. “Throughout this process, close collaboration with labor union leaders has played a pivotal role in providing comprehensive guidance for health and safety protocols in buildings throughout the city.”

The guidelines — based on CDC, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and New York City and state departments of health recommendations — will continue to be updated based on government guidance, according to a statement from REBNY. The instructions follow the slow trickle of workers back to the office,  approximately 62 percent of which are expected to return by the end of September, according to a Partnership for New York City survey.

Though, that share could end up smaller if COVID-19 variants continue to spread. Apple has already changed its return-to-work plans as a result and is pushing back its return to the office by one month, to October, CO reported.

REBNY worked with SEIU 32BJ, the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, Local 94 International Union of Operating Engineers and the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater New York in issuing the new guidelines, the trade organization said.

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.