Advice and information for researchers visiting STFC facilities at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) during the Covid-19 period
09 Feb 2022
- Updated 1 April 2022



This page gives key information for researchers physically coming for experiments to RAL, and has been developed by ISIS, CLF and Diamond.

Image of an user wearing Covid PPE




ISIS began operations again in March 2022 (for instruments on the Second Target Station only). We are anticipating that users will come physically to RAL for their experiments.

STFC moved to Alert Level 1 on Friday 1 April 2022, which means that all remaining covid-related controls have been lifted.  Whilst mask wearing and social distancing are no longer mandated, all site users are encouraged to be respectful and considerate of each other's personal space and preferences.

From 1 April 2022, the following STFC guidance applies:​

  • Ventilation and Hygiene: In line with existing HSE guidelines, we will continue to provide CO2 monitors in some of our work areas to ensure safe ventilation levels are maintained and will carry on with the provision of hand sanitisers at high usage points around our sites.

  • What to do if you feel unwell: STFC expects all staff and visitors to continue to act responsibly and refrain from coming to site if they are unwell.  If you show symptoms of Covid-19 (or test positive for the virus) then UK Government guidance should be followed.  Please inform your local contact, accommodation provider and home institution immediately if you feel unwell or test positive for Covid-19.

  • Face coverings: The wearing of face coverings in communal areas at RAL will be discretionary and at personal choice.

  • Screens: Perspex screens will be retained at our reception points until further notice and departments will be empowered to retain them in their own workspaces at their discretion.

Responsibilities of visiting researchers and their employer / host institution

​Whether you are visiting RAL from the UK or overseas, your employer remains responsible for your health and safety while you are undertaking work at RAL, notwithstanding the duty of care ISIS owes to you to provide a safe working environment. You should ensure that your employer has pre-prepared plans to support you should you become ill while working at RAL, whether Covid-19 related or not, and that you have your employer's permission to travel. For overseas visitors, it is up to the employer to ensure that you are adequately covered by insurance in the event that medical treatment is necessary in the UK (whether Covid-19-related or not).

STFC will not provide quarantine facilities if it is a requirement for researchers from overseas to isolate for a period once they enter the UK. Researchers must check immediately prior to travel the quarantine status of the bridge between their home country and the UK, and if they choose to travel to the UK under these conditions, they must arrange their own accommodation for quarantine and cannot visit RAL until the quarantine period is over.

All visitors are advised to cancel their travel plans if showing symptoms of Covid-19 before travel. In the event of a visitor becoming ill whilst at RAL, and / or testing positive for Covid-19, then STFC will allow the visitor to remain in their booked accommodation (at Ridgeway House or Cosener's House​).  ISIS will cover food and accommodation costs for UK users during a self-isolation period; repatriation expenses incurred as a result of the visitor having Covid-19 symptoms must be paid by the visitor's employer.

The UK Government page giving guidance on travel to England from another country during coronavirus may be useful.

Health and Safety is our key priority

We introduced policies and good practice as required by the current Covid situation.  If you are visiting ISIS for an experiment, you should check with your local contact regarding current requirements for, for example, in more confined spaces.

Please remember that all the normal hazards found at STFC facilities still exist and should be carefully considered in your work.

​Experimental visit​s to RAL

ISIS has returned to pre-Covid ways of running experiments after the long shutdown.  This means that we ​expect an experiment team to come to ISIS to run their experiment.  Please ensure you have an experiment team able to come physically to ISIS before submitting a proposal.​

The Facilities User Office are operating, and can be contacted through the normal email addresses. Please book your visit and accommodation through the User Office visits system

It is very important that you do not come to RAL without having arranged your visit through the User Office and completed the online training – you will not be allowed on site if you have not done this.

Both Ridgeway House and The Cosener's Hous​e are open for guests.  The restaurant and coffee lounge at RAL are both open as normal. Vending machines in the ISIS experimental halls are checked and stocked regularly.