More National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) employees may return to work in Washington, D.C.-area headquarters buildings on Monday at the start of Phase 2 of the Department of Energy’s return-to-work plan for federal personnel.
There are about 1,000 NNSA employees at the Forrestal Building in downtown D.C., and the Germantown Building in nearby suburban Maryland. They are among the roughly 7,000 DoE employees in the area. The headquarters corps mostly worked from home from late March to early June due to fears of spreading COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that broke out in Wuhan, China, last year.
The Phase 1 reopening that started earlier this month brought back mission-essential staff, such as those who need access to classified work space and employees needed to pave the way for those who will return in Phase 2.
“In Phase I, a limited number of NNSA employees have returned to the headquarters building to work,” an NNSA spokesperson said Friday. “These individuals are specifically focused on ensuring the continued performance of the Department’s mission priorities and/or implementing protocols to facilitate the NNSA re-entry process.
It is not clear exactly how many NNSA employees will return to the headquarters buildings on Monday, but “the vast majority of NNSA employees who can work remotely continue to do so,” the NNSA spokesperson said Friday. Many communal areas will remain closed at headquarters buildings and not reopen until Phase 3, which marks a return to essentially pre-COVID operations. When that might be was not clear at deadline Monday.
Those reporting to Forrestal for work must enter the main lobby via a marked employees entrance on the L’Enfant Plaza 10th Street side of the building, according to an internal email with instructions for employees. Anyone driving in should enter the Forrestal garage from 9th Street or 12th Street, then use escalators to enter the building. All revolving doors are locked, due to COVID-19 concerns.
Those headed to the Portals Building, an NNSA annex near Forrestal, must enter via the 7th floor main lobby.
At Germantown, only the North Gate access point is open to pedestrians and vehicles.