Following the announcement by the Northern Ireland Executive on 6 August regarding face coverings in public spaces, it is important for all staff and students to be aware of how this policy will be applied on campus from next week onwards.
From Monday 10 August, it will be mandatory to wear a face covering “in any indoor public space where it is not possible to maintain social distancing”. This will be applied in relevant parts of University buildings and it is essential for the safety of the whole University community that this is adhered to by staff and students.
This is a rapidly changing and fluid situation so please be aware that the University’s position may change over time to reflect changes to guidance from the NI Executive and Public Health Agency. Please continue to check your University email, University FAQ pages and social media channels for updates.
Study spaces such as those in the libraries and Graduate School, and work areas such as office spaces have already been set-up so that social distancing can be maintained. It is therefore not mandatory for face coverings to be worn when you are at your work or study station, unless normally required as part of your role (for example in a lab or clinical setting). Similarly, one way systems and other appropriate measures have also been applied so that it is not a requirement for face coverings to be worn when moving around University buildings, for example along corridors and in stair wells. However, if you are in communal spaces such as lobby areas of buildings, social spaces and shared facilities where people tend to gather and it is not possible to maintain social distancing of 2 metres, then it is mandatory to wear a face covering from Monday 10 August.
The only exceptions have been specified by the NI Executive as follows:
There are also a small number of work settings where the mandatory use of face coverings also does not apply and staff in those areas have been made aware of this.
This reinforces the previous University position of maintaining 2 metres social distancing or 1 metre plus mitigation that was already in place. For clarity, in addition to the public/shared spaces outlined above, the wearing of a face covering may, in some instances, be one of a range of mitigations used to facilitate work to take place where social distancing of 2 metres is not possible – this is referred to as 1 metre plus mitigation.
It is not possible to be prescriptive about every potential scenario on campus where it may be necessary to wear a face-covering. All members of the community are asked to apply their common sense and act responsibly in line with public health guidance to protect themselves and those around them by wearing a face covering if social distancing cannot be maintained.
It is appreciated that many staff and students will choose to wear a face covering beyond those areas where it is mandatory as outlined above and the University fully supports this position. You should also bear in mind that for personal and health reasons that are not visible, some members of our community will not be able to wear a face covering. All staff and students are expected to respect each other’s choices in this regard.
It is important to emphasise that the wearing of a face covering does not reduce the importance of hand washing, good personal hygiene and social distancing all of which are recognised as the most effective way of avoiding COVID-19.
The NI Executive have provided guidance regarding the maintenance and disposal of face coverings here and you are asked to familiarise yourself with this guidance.
To facilitate these guidelines, the University has a limited number of re-usable and disposable face coverings available for staff and students, should they require them.
Disposable face masks will be available from week commencing 10 August 2020, with reusable coverings available from week commencing 24 August 2020.
From Mon 31 August, a supply of face coverings and masks will be available from Faculty and School Offices and Directorate Offices including the Vice-Chancellor and Registrars’ Offices. Each office will then take responsibility for distributing to those staff who require them.
Before the 31 August, a small supply of face masks are available for collection from the security control room on Level 1, Administration Building (Tel: 028 9097-5099).
Please note that, on the basis that a central order has now been placed, there is no need to order your own face coverings/masks for your areas and you should not need to make individual requests with procurement for face coverings/masks.
Disposable face masks will be available from the Student Guidance Centre and Student Accommodation Receptions in BT1, BT2 and BT9 from Monday 10 August. The Students’ Union on Elmwood Avenue will also have a limited supply for students from Monday 31 August.
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For more information please read our Equality and Diversity Policy.
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