WASHINGTON — By the thousands, furloughed federal workers began returning to work across the country Thursday after 16 days off the job due to the partial government shutdown.
The Office of Personnel Management announced that workers should return to work on their next regularly scheduled work day, noting that is Thursday for most workers. Nationwide, hundreds of thousands of workers have been furloughed since the shutdown began Oct. 1.
The office encouraged agencies to be flexible for a smooth transition by allowing telework and excused absences in some cases.
"We're back from the (hashtag)shutdown!" the Smithsonian Institution declared on Twitter, announcing that its 19 museums would reopen Thursday. The National Zoo was set to reopen Friday.
The returning workers' presence will be felt on the roads and rails in the Washington region, where commutes have been less crowded over the past two weeks. The regional transit agency, Metro, reported a 20 percent drop in ridership when the shutdown began and has said it lost a few hundred thousand dollars each day.