ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- New York State has pushed back the date that employees working from home have to be back in the office and the date some state employees have to get vaccinated. Both dates have been moved to October 12, according to a memo sent to state employees dated September 3.

Face masks must also be worn by state employees, except when they are in a room or office by themselves, at their desk or workstation, and while eating or drinking.

After being sworn in at the end of August, Governor Kathy Hochul said one of her main focuses would be fighting COVID-19. Shortly thereafter, Gov. Hochul announced she had directed the Department of Health to implement a universal face mask policy for schools.

Up until that point, the state had not made any official guidance for schools regarding the 2021-2022 school year. Instead, the State’s Education Department released guidance for districts without mandates.

“Your priorities are my priorities, and right now, that means fighting the delta variant. None of us want a rerun of last year’s horrors with COVID-19, therefore we will take proactive steps to prevent that from happening,” Gov. Hochul said during her first public speech.

“We are updating guidance for state agencies to provide employees and the public with the information and resources to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and ensure government workplaces have flexibility as our workers safely return to in-person work,” said Gov. Hochul’s press secretary, Hazel Crampton-Hays, on Saturday.

On July 28, Andrew Cuomo announced that state employees, as well as patient-facing healthcare workers at state-run hospitals, would be required to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by Labor Day. He also said unvaccinated employees would be tested for the virus weekly.

State healthcare workers have until September 27 to get their first shot of coronavirus vaccine. The September 3 memo said all other state employees have until Oct. 12, and that more information regarding the requirement would be released soon.

While supporting the state’s decision to push the date workers had to return to the office, New York State Public Employees Federation (NYSPEF) President Wayne Spence said PEF is still negotiating with the state regarding vaccine and testing mandates. The full comment is below:

PEF applauds the state for pushing its return-to-work deadline back to October 12. Tens of thousands of state workers have proven they can successfully and productively telecommute and should be allowed to do so.  For the essential, public-facing workers who must be on the job, agencies must provide adequate personal protective equipment, hand sanitization and social distancing when appropriate. PEF continues to bargain with the state on the impact of vaccine and testing mandates.

NYSPEF President Wayne Spence

Face masks must be worn by everyone in government buildings and state agencies, including all visitors, in areas where there is a substantial risk of community spread of COVID-19 or in areas where there is a local mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status.