UN headquarters in New York starts phase one reopening

The UN headquarters in New York started its phase one reopening after it had remained physically close over the past four months to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“Phase one means that no more than 400 people should be in headquarters at any given day,” Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said at the noon briefing on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Currently, we have about 200 to 300 UN staff and delegates who have been coming in, including those who handle security, maintenance and cleaning,” he added.

“So, the moving up of the ceiling to 400 will be quite small and not really visible,” said Dujarric, adding that “phase two will be rolled out gradually.”

On normal workdays, some 11,000 people including UN staff, delegates and visitors enter the UN premises.

The UN Security Council met physically on July 14 for the first time since March 12. The setting was not the Council’s usual chamber in the UN headquarters but the Economic and Social Council conference room – affording safe distancing for the 15 Council members and principal people on their team. People wore masks except when they spoke into their microphones.

New York City entered phase four of reopening on Monday without resuming additional indoor activities, as local officials are concerned about a potential second wave of coronavirus infections brought here from new hotspots across the country.

The UN chief first ordered all staff at UN headquarters in New York, unless their physical presence in office was needed to carry out essential UN business, to work from home between March 16 and April 12. He then successively extended the arrangements till April 30, May 31, June 30 and July 31.

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