University of Exeter reimposes mask mandate amid spread of new COVID-19 variant

Peter Lanyon Building | Lars Mucklejohn

The University of Exeter has announced new COVID-19 measures in response to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The emergence of the new variant in southern Africa has led the UK government to reimpose mandates on face coverings in shops and on public transport.

The international spread of the Omicron variant has resulted in worldwide concern, and work by scientists is underway to find out more about its behaviour.

Although overall COVID-19 cases across the university remain low, numbers in Devon and Cornwall are relatively high and rising.

Following the latest government guidance, the university has announced that all students and staff must wear face coverings in shared spaces in all campus buildings from today.

Face coverings had previously been made optional on campus, although there was “a strong expectation” for students and staff to continue to wear them indoors.

The university said that the new measures would aim “to maintain face-to-face teaching and normal life on our campuses for the remaining two weeks of term, and to ensure we can all return home as planned at the end of term”.

While students are encouraged to use reusable face coverings, disposable masks are available from stations around Penryn Campus and the Heart reception.

Students can request exemption cards or badges on campus if they have a reason not to wear a face covering.

It is currently unclear how international field trips and placements will be affected by the new variant.

The university continues to encourage students to get vaccinated against COVID-19, including getting a booster jab as soon as possible, follow the latest government guidance, observe hygiene measures, and LFD test regularly.

It said that “we are continuing to review our measures and to ensure we can work together to keep our community safe” and will contact students if there are any “significant changes”.