Easing of Emergency Operation Rules

We outline below a modified operating concept for the planned easing of ‘Emergency Operations’ on 27.04.2020. This concept allows an increase of research activities, which require a physical presence in the Department of Physics, compared to the original ‘Emergency Operations’ concept initiated on 22.03.2020. Nevertheless, it continues to ensure compliance with the safety and hygiene standards set by the University to combat the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (https://www.unibas.ch/en/News-Events/Coronavirus/For-Researchers.html).

Our guiding principle is that – whenever possible – both lab and office work will be carried out remotely. Access to labs will be allowed only for research requiring the physical presence of researchers. Likewise, access to offices will be allowed only if absolutely necessary, e.g. in conjunction with lab work or by researchers who cannot work from home, because they lack the infrastructure or a suitable place to work. In most cases, access to offices will be rare and short in duration, e.g. to trouble-shoot a computer system, pick up a text book, or sign invoices.

Given that some of our research spaces are very large and offices open-plan, during ‘Emergency Operations’ we have adopted a minimum personal space of 30 m2 (>3-m radius) for each researcher rather than a literal one-person-per-room rule. This concept has allowed us to ensure the possibility of several meters of separation between anyone in a given space.

We now ease this personal space requirement to allow for researchers to work in fixed pairs. This is especially important for the training of Master students, new PhD students, and other important research activities, which are impossible to do alone. The pairs will be allowed to work only in designated research spaces, e.g. labs and workshops, but not offices. Pairs of individuals will be longstanding without the possibility of frequent changes. In rooms where more than one individual is allowed (see attached table), each pair will be allotted the same personal space of 30 m2 as an individual. This still provides 15 m2 of personal space to each member of a pair (>2-m radius), allowing for appropriate physical distancing within the pair. For example, in a 100 m2 lab, 3 individuals or up to 3 fixed pairs could work simultaneously while observing physical distancing rules. We propose to leave our other rules unchanged. A full description of our concept follows, with new or modified parts highlighted in red.

1) Researchers will only be allowed to work in the Department in designated rooms. Each room will be accessible only to a restricted number of users, i.e. a designated research or work group. Furthermore, each room can host a maximum number of individuals or fixed pairs of individuals, to ensure that – at any given time – each individual or pair has a minimum personal space of 30 m2. A closed electronic sign-up system will ensure that the maximum number of individuals or pairs in a room is never exceeded. In case of an infection, the system will also allow for full traceability of who was where and when. During work, all researchers are to observe social distancing and hygiene regulations set out by BAG.

2) Working pairs will consist of 2 researchers, who need to work together, and will not change on time-scales shorter than 2 weeks. A list of designated pairs and any changes to those pairs are to be submitted to Head of Technology & Safety. Pairs will be allowed to work only in research spaces designated in the attached table. Tasks requiring separations less than 2 m between members of the pair should be avoided as much as possible. When such tasks are impossible to avoid, each member must wear appropriate personal protective equipment (face mask, etc.).

3) In the event that a user presents corona virus symptoms or tests positive for the virus, his or her access to the department will immediately be interrupted. All users with access to the same rooms will be notified and sent home for self-quarantine.

4) Cleaning/disinfecting material and latex gloves will be placed in each designated room, to which more than 1 user has access. Cleaning of common surfaces is to be done by each user before and after use.

5) Access to multiple-user bathrooms will be limited to 1 user at a time, using a two-sided occupied/unoccupied sign on the door.

6) Access to all common rooms, coffee kitchens, will be prohibited. Access to lifts will also be prohibited, with the exception of their unmanned use for the movement of large packages, equipment, and cryogenic liquids. These prohibitions will be clearly communicated with signs.

7) All planned meetings between Department members will be done electronically (even between 2 people).


8) Anyone in at-risk categories should minimize time and contact with
others in the Department.

9) Those with access to the Department should behave in such a way as to protect themselves and their colleagues both inside and outside the Department.  They should follow the recommendations given by the BAG (https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home/krankheiten/ausbrueche-epidemien-pandemien/aktuelle-ausbrueche-epidemien/novel-cov/so-schuetzen-wir-uns.html), including being in public only when necessary, washing hands frequently, and keeping their distance from others.

10) The supply of cryogenic liquids (liquid nitrogen and liquid helium) for essential experiments will be ensured by a rotating member of the machine-shop staff.

Compliance with these rules will be ensured by once or twice daily walk-throughs of the Department. The Department remains closed to the public and should only be entered by personnel who have a key.

In case any of the above rules are infringed, all research activities in the department will be immediately and indefinitely stopped.

Please, take these rules seriously.

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