TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KFOR) – The Cherokee Nation announced that it will reopen its government offices in a phased plan with employees returning on staggered shifts beginning June 1.
Officials say all tribal employees in positions not directly connected to the tribe’s COVID-19 response have been working from home or have been on administrative leave since the week of March 16.
Now, tribal officials say Cherokee Nation governmental employees across all departments will begin returning to work on June 1 and will work staggered days of the week to limit the number of employees
Meanwhile, employees who are 65-years-old or older or with certain high-risk health conditions will continue to stay home on paid administrative leave or will work from home for the time being for safety.
“This reopening will mean our programs and services, which never ceased during this crisis, will have a workforce back in the building, ready to serve our citizens. From tag offices, to career services to registration to all other departments, we will be open for our Cherokee citizens government needs,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. said. “Access will be safe, however, as we are limiting how many people, including our staff, can be in any one location at a time. We’re using staggered shifts. Staff as well as visitors to our office buildings will be required to wear masks and social-distance, and we will have rigorous sanitization practices and other safety measures in place to help protect our citizens, our employees and our communities and keep this curve flattened.”
In addition, officials say there will be a number of safety measures in place when employees return to work.
Tribal leaders say they are installing partitions at client interaction areas, keeping work spaces distanced, increasing cleaning systems, using masks, and keeping waiting areas contained to 10 or fewer people at a time.
Cherokee Nation Businesses’ plans for a phased reopening beginning June 1, will be released soon.
As of May 8, the Cherokee Nation had 72 positive cases of COVID-19 and three deaths in the Cherokee Nation health system.
“COVID-19 is still in our community, our region, our country and the world,” Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner said. “The virus does not follow anyone’s time table but its own. That’s why we’ll continue to adjust our plans as we go along. Ensuring the safety of our citizens and employees will remain our top priority.”