Wednesday, September 22
06:41 AM

Mix of excitement, concern as government staff return to work


After being away from work for the last two months, a large workforce in the government sector will be heading back to their offices on Sunday. A majority of them are waiting to resume work and regain normalcy in their lives.

Last week, the Supreme Committee dealing with COVID-19 announced the lifting of the lockdown of Muscat Governorate from Friday and also said that it has issued a decision for 50 per cent of government employees to go back to work from May 31.

Since April 1, the Supreme Committee had exempted all government employees from attending work, except those whose nature required their presence, saying that employees could work remotely as determined by the employer.

“I missed interacting with my colleagues and I am ready to go back to work in a safe environment. I know there would be some changes in the way we will conduct ourselves but it is a good feeling to go back to work. I am glad that the authorities are doing everything they can to protect the staff and it is now our duty to do our part,” Halima al Naamani, one of thousands of government employees, said.

Along with the excitement, there is also concern for some. “As our office is a little bit enclosed and the seating arrangement is such that we all sit together, we are all waiting to see how things work. We have to plan our arrangement when we get to office. So, we are concerned but we will surely have social distancing in our office as well as observe normal precautions. Also, since I am not from Muscat but my office is in Muscat, I usually depend on eating out which I think is not fully safe,” Mohammed al Balushi, another government employee from Sohar, said.

People were also hopeful that things will be back to normal because now people are aware of how to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. “We anticipate strict social distancing, constant hand-washing and face masks will be part of our daily endeavours at workplaces. Many of us already know the dangers of this virus and we have to be more careful now than ever. We have to find a way to live our life with this situation,” Msellem al Musallami, a government official, said.

The Supreme Committee recently announced that everyone must wear face masks in public places, including in all permitted commercial and industrial activities, workplaces in the public and private sectors and public transportation as well as authorised the Royal Oman Police to monitor the compliance of individuals and public and private institutions and directly impose fines and detain violators of these decisions.

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