Virginia’s state employees must return to on-site work by July 5 unless they have a new telework agreement approved, according to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s new telework policy.

“After listening to the needs of Virginians, discussing solutions with agency heads across government, and closely monitoring the pandemic, we are excited to welcome our employees in-person this summer. We know that creative, innovative, and effective solutions for all Virginians occur with regular, in-person interaction by our incredible workforce here in the Commonwealth,” Youngkin said in a press release.

Employees can apply for teleworking options, but Youngkin’s release highlights returning to the workplace.

“Given that the data on the pandemic indicates its severity is rapidly subsiding, and the DOLI has instituted new regulations to ensure the safety of all employees, the Administration is incredibly excited to serve Virginians better by being together in the office. Data supports that employees benefit from interaction with fellow teammates – improved collaboration, teamwork and social well-being, and this new workforce telework policy supports the Governor’s desire to deliver a best-in-class Government and a return to normalcy,” an FAQ for the new policy states.

COVID-19 cases in Virginia are down dramatically from all time highs in January 2022, although Virginia Department of Health data shows a gradual increase in case numbers in April.

In a 2021 special session Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) led legislators in requiring the DMV to re-open walk-in services.

“There’s just a sort of resistance to having people come back to work, and at some point, we have an executive branch, and the executive branch has got to execute,” he said in October, hinting that then-Governor Ralph Northam should take action.

In a Thursday letter, Youngkin Chief of Staff Jeff Goettman said, “Virginia is again open for business and we want to lead its emergence from the pandemic in the workplace.”

“Now, more than two years into this pandemic, we are returning to normalcy leaning forward and focusing on excellence to ensure that the Commonwealth of Virginia is the best place in the nation to live, work and raise a family.”

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney praised the decision for its impact to Virginia’s capital city.

He tweeted, “Thank you @GovernorVA for this decision. It will help bring more people back into downtown Richmond, supporting our local economy!”

This article originally appeared in The Virginia Star. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Republican Standard. Republished with permission.