Many employees of the District of Columbia government made their way into the Wilson Building early Monday morning for the first time in more than a year.
"I think it’s the light at the end of the tunnel that we’re seeing an end to this pandemic," said Jay Melder, assistant city administrator.
Celebration was in the air outside the Wilson Building, where some District government workers could be seen unloading "welcome back" treats.
"I think you feel that excitement with people coming back to their spaces, and seeing colleagues — not through a Zoom lens — but in real life," Melder said, who was involved in the effort to make July 12 the target date to return.
Although the pandemic pushed the D.C. government to transition into telework, Melder says getting back into the office safely was always the goal.
"You get that collaboration. You feel like a team again," he said. "You feel like a family, which is what this government really is, and I think you’re going to see that feeling and that enthusiasm kind of blossom through with our service to residents."
Speaking on Friday at the first D.C. cabinet meeting since 2019, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser echoed that the top priority is bringing back workers, followed by other work options.
"We’ll consider some opportunity to continue teleworking while we are transitioning back, but the majority of our work week will be spent in person serving our customers," Bowser said.
Across all D.C. agencies, COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place to keep everyone safe.