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Cern planning gradual restart from 18 May

Image: Max Braun [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Leadership of nuclear research organisation hopes for complete removal of pandemic restrictions by September

Europe’s nuclear research organisation Cern will begin to ease its Covid-19 restrictions on 18 May, it has announced.

“We have developed a preliminary plan for the gradual and safe restart of the activities and for bringing personnel back to work on the sites,” Cern director general Fabiola Gianotti said in a 7 May virtual meeting.

Cern will begin to restart priority activities, such as a shutdown of its Large Hadron Collider instrument, accelerator and detector upgrades, and urgent site and building work, during phase one of its plan, which it estimates will last 16 weeks. Up to an additional 500 people per week will be allowed to return to Cern sites during this time.

Phase two is planned to start from mid-September and “will hopefully see the removal of all restrictions on the number of people on the sites”, Cern said, pending weekly review from a Cern directorate. “If the health situation in Europe and beyond has improved, Cern should again be open to the full community,” it said.

The organisation has been in “safe mode” since 20 March, with no more than 600 people allowed on its sites at once, and only for essential equipment and facility maintenance. This was down from an average of 8,000 before the pandemic. A peak of nearly 13,900 employees have used Cern’s teleconference tool in one day, the organisation said.