New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) will require COVID-19 booster injections for all staff amid an alarming increase in Omicron cases across the country. The museum will extend remote work until January 31 for some employees, but front-line workers in retail, security and visitor services will still be required to work on-site and will receive a daily bonus of $ 50, according to an internal to staff email obtained by Hyperallergic.
“As we prepare for the holidays and the following weeks, out of prudence, we have decided that the MoMA employees who work at the Museum and at QNS [MoMA’s library branch in Long Island City, New York] and who can exercise their professional responsibilities while working remotely can, with the authorization of their managers, work at home from December 27, 2021 to January 31, 2022 ”, indicates an e-mail sent by the human resources department of the museum on December 22. According to the email, all staff will return to work on site on February 1.
The email goes on to announce that MoMA will “extend the requirement to be fully immunized to include a booster vaccine” within seven days of a worker’s eligibility to receive one (six months after vaccines Pfizer and Moderna and two months after a Johnson & Johnson vaccine). Workers who are eligible to receive a recall before January 31 must prove that they received the recall before that date. Those who will become eligible for the booster after the January 31 deadline must provide HR with the completion date of their first two vaccines by the end of January and show proof of a booster within one week of their eligibility date.
New York State’s COVID-19 cases have increased by more than 80% in the past two weeks due to the spread of the highly transmissible variant Omicron. The number of cases reported last week was the highest since the start of the pandemic. Last week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that it had reduced its visitor capacity to 10,000 per day, halving its average daily attendance during the holiday season, and suspended meals in its cafeteria to contain the risk infection. Prior to that, the Metropolitan Opera became the first New York institution to require proof of a recall from its staff, artists, and audiences.
In an email to Hyperallergic, a MoMA spokesperson confirmed the new security measures, saying they were based on the The Key to New York COVID-19 vaccination mandate for companies, which requires all staff to present proof of at least one dose of vaccine starting today, December 27 (workers will have 45 days to prove their second dose of vaccine Pfizer or Moderna; they are still not required to show proof of a recall).
“Since our reopening to the public in August 2020, we have required face coverings for all staff and visitors aged 2 and over in all interior areas of the museum campus,” the spokesperson added, also noting that the daily capacity of the museum remains limited to less than 10,000. visitors.
A public MoMA employee who spoke to Hyperallergic on condition of anonymity criticized the new security guidelines as insufficient, accusing the museum of pursuing a “sticks and carrots” policy.
The worker noted that the museum paid frontline workers the same daily bonus of $ 50 at an earlier stage of the pandemic, but has since shut down “although things were still bad.”
The worker, who says he recently recovered from COVID-19, accused the museum of failing to safely deal with an alleged wave of infections among staff.
“I informed HR that I had tested positive for COVID and was experiencing symptoms while on the job, but they never sent an email notifying other workers I was in contact with.” , said the worker. “I personally informed them that I had tested positive and encouraged them to get tested.” MoMA did not respond to these allegations.
When asked how the museum could better address its security concerns, the worker said MoMA should follow the Met’s lead and reduce attendance to “avoid bottlenecks and allow for greater distancing social ”.
“I would expect the museum to slow down a bit and take density out of the equation, but I guess they don’t want to waste any money.”
“The health and safety of our staff and the public remain MoMA’s top priority,” the museum spokesperson said in response. “We are working closely with health experts and government officials to stay abreast of the latest COVID-19 information and remain vigilant in our efforts to protect the health and safety of all. “
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