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Department of Chemistry Internal Pages


COVID-19 Information

Department COVID-19 Information

The purpose of this page is to keep you informed on how the Department is responding to the coronavirus pandemic, and to provide useful links and resources.

Face coverings must be worn in all public areas and circulation spaces, eg foyers, corridors, staircases and toilets. Individual PIs or line managers will determine whether face coverings are required in their own research areas and offices occupied by more than one person. Some colleagues are not able to wear face coverings because of medical reasons - please be sensitive to this possibility.

Criteria for requesting a symptomatic COVID test

These have been updated to include a wider range of symptoms

    1. High temperature – this means a feeling of feverishness, or a measured temperature above 37.8° C
    2. New cough – this means a new intermittent or persistent cough, or worsening of your usual cough (if you have one)
    3. A loss or change in your sense of taste or smell, particularly in the absence of nasal congestion
    4. A sore throat
    5. Nasal discharge or congestion
    6. Muscle aches
    7. New hoarseness
    8. New shortness of breath
    9. A new wheeze
    10. A positive Lateral Flow test

Data from weekly asymptomatic COVID testing in the Department

The results from the regular asymptomatic testing carried out in the Department will be posted here as the data become available.

week beginning number of tests number of negative results number of positive results
08/02/2021 41 41 0
15/02/2021 40 40 0
22/02/2021 44 44 0
1/3/2021 44 44 0
8/3/2021 43 43 0
15/3/2021 44 44 0
22/3/2021 45 44 0
29/3/2021 35 35 0
7/4/2021 30 30 0
12/4/2021 39 39 0
19/4/2021 39 39 0
26/4/2021 42 42 0
03/05/2021 34 34 0
10/05/2021 44 44 0
17/05/2021 45 45 0
24/05/2021 46 46 0
31/05/2021 40 40 0
7/06/2021 49 49 0
14/06/2021 44 44 0
21/06/2021 42 41 1
28/06/2021 35 35 0
5/07/2021 37 37 0
12/07/2021 35 35 0
19/07/2021 29 29 0

If you feel any information is missing or needs updating, please contact: Chloe Barker

Pages updated: 22/07/2021

Useful links

Risk assessment tools

Departmental policies and procedures


What do I do if I have symptoms of coronavirus?

  • If you have any COVID-19 symptoms get a test immediately, let your line manager/academic know.
  • Request a test using this link. (This is new - do not use the previously advertised telephone number.)
  • When booking, you can select to take a test at one of two locations:
    • S2 Testing Pods, Addenbrooke's Hospital – 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. These pods are only accessible by car, or bike while wearing a mask. If you are already on the Biomedical Campus, you can access the pods on foot while wearing a mask.
    • Dyson Building, Department of Engineering, Fen Causeway entrance – 8.30am to 2.45pm, Monday to Friday. Accessible by bike or foot while wearing a mask. Access by car is possible but very limited.
  • If you develop symptoms after the closure of the Pod on Friday, or any time on Saturday or Sunday, or cannot access either of these two locations, you can arrange a test at an alternative location using the NHS website.
  • Self-isolate until you receive further instructions from the Addenbrooke's Hospital Occupational Health or Infectious Diseases teams, in accordance with Public Health England (PHE) guidance.

What should I do if I receive a positive test for COVID-19?

If a member of the Department receives a positive test for COVID-19 they should immediately pass on this information to the Senior Team by emailing  

The relevant line manager or PI should also be informed by email, text or phone, as appropriate.

Once an email has been sent to you should expect an acknowledgement within 2 hours.  If this is not forthcoming, then you should call James Keeler directly on 07590 503753 or, if there is no reply, Marita Walsh on 07870 295306.

In addition to passing on this information to the Department, anyone in receipt of a positive test can expect to be contacted by the NHS Track & Trace system.

What should I do if I don't have symptoms, but a member of my household does?

If a member of your household has COVID symptoms, or you have been identified as a contact by a Track and Trace team, you should not come to work. You should follow the government's guidance on self-isolation.

What is meant by a ‘contact’?

A ‘contact’ is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID- 19 anytime from 2 days before the person was symptomatic up to 10 days from onset of symptoms

(this is when they are infectious to others). For example, a contact can be:

• people who spend significant time in the same household as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19

• sexual partners

• a person who has had face-to-face contact (within one metre), with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, including:

   • being coughed on

   • having a face-to-face conversation within one metre

   • having skin-to-skin physical contact, or

   • contact within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact

   • a person who has been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for COVID- 19 for more than 15 minutes

   • a person who has travelled in a small vehicle with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or in a large vehicle or plane near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

Where an interaction between 2 people has taken place through a Perspex (or equivalent) screen, this would not be considered sufficient contact, provided that there has been no other contact such as any of those indicated above.

Contacts of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 need to self-isolate at home because they are at risk of developing symptoms themselves in the next 14 days and could spread the virus to

others before the symptoms begin

If you are a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, then you will be notified by

the NHS Test and Trace service via text message, email or phone. If you are notified, please follow the guidance in this document closely.

If you have not been notified that you are a contact, this means you do not need to self-isolate and should follow the general guidance, for example, social distancing, hand-washing, and covering coughs and sneezes.

What is social distancing and how is it being maintained in the Department?

Social distancing is presently defined as a separation of 2 metres, or where this is not possible, a distance of 1 metre combined with additional measures such as the use of face coverings or other PPE (personal protective equipment).

To maintain these distances, we've instituted a series of one-way corridors. Where corridors are too narrow to be made one-way, there is a system of 'corridor etiquette', where you should wait to enter the corridor until it is not being used, and then proceed quickly so other people can use it. Each PI will establish procedures in line with social distancing in their own areas (see the question about Research Groups for more information).

Do I need to wear a face covering in the Department?

From Monday 14 September, face coverings must be worn in all public areas and circulation spaces e.g. foyers, corridors, staircases, toilets, unless you have a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a mask.  
Individual PIs or line managers will determined whether not face coverings are required in their own research areas and in offices occupied by more than one person.

For face coverings to be effective they need to be worn and used correctly.

What other ways is the Department being made safe?

In order to make the work environment as safe as possible, we are taking the following actions across the Department:

1. Additional PPE (e.g. gloves, face coverings) will be provided to those whose work requires it, e.g. those in high traffic areas or with higher levels of face-to-face contact, and also for staff who need to use public transport. The gloves for public transport will be a different colour to the purple gloves used in research areas, which shouldn't be used outside laboratories.
2. Hand sanitizer is available at strategic points throughout the building.
3. In common areas, such as stores and reception, where there is likely to be frequent face-to-face contact
protective screens are installed; floor markings are also used to indicate appropriate distancing.
4. We have instituted an enhanced program of cleaning and sanitation, focused especially on public areas. It may be
necessary to close some areas for certain periods during the day to allow cleaners to operate freely.
Cleaners are required to wear full PPE at all times after 07:00.
5. Cleaning materials are provided for the use of individual laboratories and offices. Additional supplies are
available from floor technicians or Marita Walsh, Support Services Manager.


What are the rules for Research Groups?

  1. Each PI will establish procedures for work in their own areas. These procedures are in addition to our general Departmental procedures.

  2. Each PI is responsible for making sure that these procedures are obeyed.

  3. In formulating their procedures PIs should pay close attention to the need to maintain social distancing, the additional risks of using shared equipment and air-conditioned spaces.

  4. Group meetings and seminars are permitted as long as it's possible to maintain social distancing of 2 metres: in effect this means that these types of meetings will need to take place in the lecture theatres and with strictly controlled numbers.

What personal actions should I take to reduce the risk in the Department?

Here are some simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus in the Department:

  1.  Practise social distancing at all times and in all areas

  2.  Frequently wash or sanitize your hands

  3.  Avoid touching surfaces more than necessary

  4.  Do not use the lifts unless you are unable to use the stairs due to a medical condition or you are

    transporting equipment that needs to be transported in the lift 

  1.  Use the one-way system in operation in some corridors and staircases; if the corridor or staircase is two-way observe ‘corridor etiquette’ (i.e. first check that the area is clear, then move quickly through)

  2.  Avoid touching the handrail on staircases unless necessary for support

  3.  Don't linger in corridors and other public areas

  4.  Be especially mindful to behave appropriately at pinch points such as exterior doors and the entrance

     foyer, and use the indicated doors and routes in and out of the building/reception area

  5.  Comply with the toilet ‘one in one out’ system and move the blue cone accordingly

  6.  Follow any additional rules prescribed for particular areas

What are the Department hours during the pandemic?

The Department will be open 08:00-24:00, 7 days per week. Please note it has always been our rule that research workers must never work alone in the laboratory; there must be at least one other person within easy call in the event of a mishap.

Can I use the Cybercafé or the Cambridge Blue counter?

The Cybercafé will remain open

In accordance with guidelines there will be some minor changes:

  • The Cybercafé staff will operate behind Perspex screens
  • No-one else is permitted behind the counter
  • Cybercafé staff will serve drinks including coffee (filter & instant) and teabags from behind the screen.
  • Loose biscuits will no longer be available
  • Eating utensils will no longer be available, so please bring your own
  • Individual sachets of condiments will no longer be available, so again, please bring your own (including salt and pepper)
  • Sugar will be available from the café staff
  • Payment will only be accepted by card (preferably contactless); cash will not be accepted
  • Self Service will still be possible for confectionary, crisps, snacks, chocolate, cold drinks and sandwiches during opening hours
  • The vending machines will continue to be available at any time

Please be aware that social distancing must be respected at all times and consequently there will be reduced capacity in the Cybercafé, therefore, please stagger your break times.
Please do not queue beyond the end of the counter.

Because of the reduced capacity the Cybercafé is to be used for Eating and Drinking only.
Supervisions are not permitted in the café on weekdays before 16:00.

Cambridge Blue, located at the entrance to the BMS Lecture Theatre, is presently closed.

We would appreciate if everyone could please be patient and respectful to the Cybercafé and Cambridge Blue staff, and to other café users.

What are the guidelines for supervisions?

Supervisions must be conducted in a way which is consistent with current advice on social distancing.  This means maintaining 2 m distance between everyone involved and wearing a face covering). In addition, it is recommended that the space used for supervisions should be as well ventilated as possible (e.g. open windows, leave doors open).  Those using their own offices for supervisions must consider carefully the logistics of how supervisees will be placed and also how supervisees will enter and exit the office.  In all cases everyone must wear face coverings when moving around.

It is NOT recommended that students submit written work on paper for marking and return.  Rather, students should scan their work and submit it electronically (Teams works well for this purpose).  The traditional
teaching style in which the supervisor writes on paper with the supervisees gathered around, possibly writing on the same paper, is simply not acceptable.  Rather, the supervisor will need to use a white board (or equivalent) to write on in order to maintain distance and visibility.  It would be best to avoid the supervisees standing up to write on the board as well, but if this has to be done, pens must NOT be shared, and face coverings must be used.

To facilitate supervisions we will make mobile white boards available in the library and the Cyber Café. The idea is that the supervisees will be seated, appropriately distanced, at one of the tables and the supervisor can then position the white board conveniently. Hand gel and spray for sanitizing hard surfaces is available at each of these 'supervision stations': please use the gel when people arrive, and the spray after each supervision.  Supervisors must bring their own pens: they can be ordered from Stores or purchased from the service point in the Cyber Café.

Supervisions can be conducted in the Library after 15:00 on weekdays and all day on Saturday, and in the Cyber Café after 16:00 on weekdays and all day
on Saturday.  It makes sense for people to spread themselves out in the available spaces.

Can I invite a visitor to the Department?

  • Visitors with a bone fide scientific reason to be in the Department are permitted, but PIs should keep the number and the length of visits to an absolute minimum. Please notify Reception in advance, and ask visitors to report to reception in the usual way. The visitor’s host is responsible for ensuring that relevant procedures are obeyed.
  • Visiting students, sabbatical visitors, etc, are discouraged but permission can be sought, on a case-by-case basis, from the Head of Department.
  • Social visitors are not allowed for the time being.

What do I do if I think the proper procedures aren't being followed?

If you have any concerns over the proper implementation of any of these safety procedures, please initially raise this with your line manager or PI. Head of Department  James Keeler ( and Support Services Manager Marita Walsh ( are also always available to listen to your concerns on a confidential basis.

Where can I find information about the University's COVID-19 policies?

You can find more information on the University's COVID-19 web pages.
A COVID Recovery SharePoint site has also now been made available to all University and College staff, which gathers all the information for staff into one area. You will need your crsid and Raven password to log on to the SharePoint site.


Can I use the library?

Members of the Department are free to use the library as a working space when they are in the Department for other purposes e.g. while waiting for experiments to finish, or to plan experiments.  However, people should not come into the Department just to sit in the library - it is only to be used in parallel with work which requires you to come into the Department.

Note that after 15:00 supervisions may be carried out in the Library.

Can I use a Lecture Theatre or Meeting Room?

Meetings and seminars are permitted in Lecture Theatres subject to the strict adherence to social distancing guidelines (adjusted capacities for each theatre appear in brackets in the room bookings system).

Should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us