UCL News


New COVID-19 safety guidance, 9 December 2021

9 December 2021

An update following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 8 December of new Plan B safety measures.

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Visit Keeping safe on campus webpages for the latest information, resources and support for students and staff.

Find out how to keep safe on campus

New Government guidance 

The UK Government has announced several new COVID-19 safety measures in England in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant:  

  • From Friday 10 December, face coverings will be required by law in most indoor public places. Face coverings are already required in shops and on public transport. 

  • From Monday 13 December, office workers should work from home if they can, with Government exemptions for Higher Education staff (see below). 

  • From Wednesday 15 December, people over 18 will need a digital NHS COVID Pass, recognised international proof of vaccination, or proof of a negative Lateral Flow Test (LFT) in the last 48 hours to gain entry to many large venues. This does not include teaching and learning events. 

  • The Government has announced its intention to replace self-isolation with daily testing for some contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19. Further details will be set out soon. Until then, by law you must self-isolate if told to do so by NHS Test and Trace. This includes anyone identified as a close contact of a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, irrespective of vaccination status and age. 

These measures are in addition to the Government’s recent travel updates, including new Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test requirements.  

The situation is evolving and public health guidance can change at short notice. We will share any further updates with you as soon as possible. Please check the UK Government and NHS websites, as well as UCL’s coronavirus information hub, for the latest information. Our own public health experts are meeting regularly and we will continue to take their advice. 

Working on campus 

Campus will remain open for in-person teaching, research and support activity, which will continue as planned in line with the latest guidance from the Department for Education. We expect students to be on campus unless they are unwell, have been asked to self-isolate, or their programme is available for remote study.  

The Government has advised that anyone who cannot work remotely should continue to come into their usual place of work (with some exemptions for Higher Education settings). For example, to access equipment necessary for their role or where their role must be carried out face-to-face. At UCL, this includes colleagues who need to be on campus to deliver face-to-face teaching and research (e.g. lecturers, researchers and other academic staff) and those who support this work (e.g. lab technicians, specialist technical staff and other student-facing roles), who are expected to continue working onsite. The same applies to staff responsible for student services (e.g. medical, mental health and wellbeing support, libraries and campus facilities).  

All other office workers at UCL who can work remotely should do so from Monday 13 December. Please speak to your line manager if you are not sure if you should work remotely, or if you do not have access to an appropriate workspace offsite so arrangements can be made for you to work on campus. Please remember that you must not come onto campus if you feel unwell (even if you do not have COVID-19 symptoms) or you have been asked to self-isolate. 

If it is not clear whether a member of staff should work remotely, their manager should seek advice from their Faculty or Professional Services leadership, in consultation with HR Business Partnering where required. 

Advice for students 

Out latest advice for students can be found on the Student News webpages.

Keeping our community safe 

Please remember: 

Find out more about the measures UCL has put in place and what you can do to help keep everyone safe on campus

Further information and support  

Further advice and resources for managers are available on UCL’s coronavirus information hub.  

UCL staff can also access emotional support and practical advice by contacting the Employee Assistance Programme: Staff Support Service. The service is 24/7, free and entirely confidential.


Are there any changes to the teaching model for the remainder of Term 1?  

Face-to-face teaching and research should continue as planned for the remainder of term. Government guidance states that teaching and learning should not be moved online as a result of the work from home guidance and staff can continue to attend work as necessary to deliver this. 

The only exception to this guidance is if a specific Faculty or area of UCL is affected by an outbreak. In that instance, the UCL Connect to Protect team will advise staff on how to respond, in line with UCL’s outbreak management plan and guidance from public health authorities where appropriate. 

Are there any changes to the teaching model in Term 2?  

In line with UK Government guidance, we intend for campus to be fully open and for face-to-face teaching and research to continue as planned in Term 2. The situation is evolving and public health guidance can change at short notice. We will keep this under review and update you again should Government guidance change.  

How will UCL support staff who are required to travel to work? 

Our priority is to make sure our campus and our community are as safe as possible. We will consider requests for support to help reduce the risk of transmission while commuting for colleagues who are required to work on campus, however the situation is different from last year when UCL was able to offer smaller numbers of staff support such as expenses for parking and congestion charges.