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Two years of COVID-19 measures at CERN: Thank you for your commitment and your resilience


Benoît Delille is the head of the HSE Unit

With the move to COVID-19 Level 1 – Green on Monday, 14 March, I feel hopeful that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, even though we all need to remain vigilant, safe and responsible. On behalf of the CERN Management, this is a “thank you” to the CERN community at large, for your commitment and resilience during these unprecedented times.

The unique geographical situation of CERN, straddling two Host States, and the diversity of its workforce and stakeholders made the design of suitable COVID-19 measures a particular challenge. We met this challenge by displaying a spirit of inclusiveness that accommodated different opinions and by staying as science-based as possible. A comprehensive set of measures, including effective testing and contact-tracing programmes, enabled us to limit on-site transmission and keep the Laboratory open and safe to pursue its mission.

Innovation, commitment and creativity shone through many COVID-related initiatives. At the beginning of the pandemic, CERN reached out to its neighbours by creating a dedicated COVID-19 taskforce and reinforcing the local emergency response with the support of the CERN Fire and Rescue Service. The CARA (COVID Airborne Risk Assessment) tool, which was developed to model the concentration of viruses in enclosed spaces to help with space management during the pandemic, has since been adopted beyond CERN’s confines and will help in the longer term to ensure good air quality in workspaces. In addition, an on-site vaccination centre catered for colleagues and their family members living in both France and Switzerland. These are just a few examples of the collective efforts made.

Throughout, all the CERN teams worked side by side. Dedicated health and safety measures, HR support and COVID helplines were coordinated and brought together on our dedicated HSE webpages to keep you informed at all stages of the pandemic. The implementation of the four-level COVID-19 scale last June was yet another joint effort that enabled a swift adjustment of the many impacted services at all stages of the pandemic.

The situation is being continuously monitored as the coronavirus is still circulating and is set to become part of our lives. With fewer measures in Level 1 – Green, we will all have to learn how to live and work safely with the virus, in a spirit of respect and tolerance, all the while breathing life back into our unique campus-like environment: a place where we can favour face-to-face exchanges to fuel our innovative minds, while ensuring due protection for those who are vulnerable and at higher risk.

For my part, having taken the helm of the HSE unit at the start of 2021, I look forward to continuing to work closely with all our partners who have helped us to successfully meet the challenges of the pandemic and, more generally, with the CERN community on a range of other subjects within the wider mission of the HSE unit. Together, we will strive to support research and innovation by building sustainable and healthy foundations.