As businesses re-open and we adapt to the new normal, we should not forget that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, that there is not yet a vaccine, and that the number of cases is still rising in our Host States, albeit at a much lower rate than during the lockdown period. The virus is still circulating and we need to be prepared for increasing cases as the holiday season draws to a close, more of us come back to work and our activities move indoors in the autumn. For these reasons, our return to work must be managed with the utmost care, and it is the responsibility of every one of us to play our part in ensuring the health and safety of our colleagues and ourselves. Respecting CERN’s COVID-19 health and safety measures is our common framework for doing that.
CERN’s HSE Unit is monitoring the evolving situation closely and matching the measures in place at CERN to the evidence at our disposal. First published on 5 May prior to commencing the gradual re-start of on-site activities, the measures have been updated to reflect the latest developments and knowledge, and in anticipation of a full return to work in September. You will find the new CERN instructions on COVID-19-related health and safety measures in EDMS, linked from the usual coronavirus information, measures and recommendations page, along with specific information on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning of indoor spaces and instructions for the organisation of office work spaces and for contractors working on site.
These are lengthy documents, but the information they contain is vital for all of us and it’s imperative that we all take the time to familiarise ourselves with them. The changes take into account the fact that there are more people on site than there were two months ago and that this number will continue to grow, with the consequence that interactions between people are becoming more frequent, which increases the risk of infection chains.
The main messages are already familiar: avoiding close contact with others, frequent hand washing and the wearing of masks are the key measures for protecting us all. CERN’s instructions spell out precisely how these should be applied in the CERN context, and they go further in detailing what we must do if we have COVID-19 symptoms, or indeed symptoms of any kind of infectious disease. They set out our individual responsibilities in terms of tracing those we have been in contact with and maintaining the cleanliness of equipment and vehicles we have used, and lay out clearly procedures for self-isolation for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases and those with whom they have been in close contact. Access to the sites and recommendations on transport, the organisation of work, meetings, duty travel and events are also covered.
CERN’s coronavirus information, measures and recommendations page is also regularly updated to reflect the latest advice from the Host States. Of particular relevance through the summer holiday season is the ordonnance issued on 2 July 2020 by the Swiss Federal Council, which stipulates that as of 6 July 2020, travellers who have spent any amount of time in States or areas with a high risk of COVID-19 infection within 14 days of their arrival in Switzerland must put themselves in quarantine* for 10 days. CERN complies with this measure and members of the personnel are expected to respect it. When choosing a holiday destination, choose wisely. Inform yourself of quarantine requirements or local restrictions at your destination, and know that if you do travel to an area with a high risk of infection, CERN may require you to quarantine yourself for 14 days upon return. This is stricter than the Swiss ordonnance, but in line with the measures in place in many European countries. If you are an employed or associated member of the personnel and this concerns you, discuss your plans with your supervisor before leaving in order to plan your absence to include a possible period of quarantine. If you are a contractor, the Medical Service will determine whether you need to self-isolate.
Despite the constraints that COVID-19 places on our plans and its impact on our daily lives, we hope you will be able to make the most of the warm summer days. Wherever you go, stay safe!
*The term quarantine is used to describe a preventative measure for people without COVID-19 symptoms, e.g. for persons coming back from areas of increased risk of infection or those having been in close contact with people with COVID-19 symptoms. If the quarantined person does not develop symptoms, the duration is 14 days. Self-isolation is for people with symptoms, to avoid further infections, and the duration of the isolation depends on the severity of the symptoms and includes three symptom-free days at the end. The minimum duration is 13 days.