Research Complex remains open for research during latest lockdown

Prepping test tubes

Research Complex at Harwell Director Professor David Payne has announced that the Research Complex remains open for all research but as a result of rapidly changing circumstances announced by the government on 4th January, we are making some changes to our procedures, outlined below, as the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and users are of the utmost importance to us.

Professor Payne would like to thank each and everyone of you for your diligence in following our Covid safety procedures to date. In doing so you have kept your colleagues, yourselves and Research Complex as secure as possible.


Until now you have been required to wear masks in communal areas, laboratories and multiple occupancy offices where there are more than one person present in them. Going forward we ask if you could all continue to wear your masks in the multiple occupancy office, even if you are in the office alone. This is to reduce as much as possible the amount of droplets/aerosols emitted into the air.


We realise it is cold outside, but one of the best mechanisms we have against Covid is ventilation, and particularly as this new variant is considerably more transmissible. Therefore we will be looking to have windows in the offices open for periods of time to ensure good airflow in offices. We will write again separately as to how this will work in practise. We realise this is uncomfortable, and we are planning to provide additional provisions to keep you warm. Please do contact Zuzanna Lalanne or Sadie Primmer if there are any specific concerns.


Whilst we aim to maintain good occupancy levels, the measures announced last night state that you should only come to work if you cannot “reasonably work from home”. Please do discuss what this means for your circumstances with your group leader. We are trying to find a balance between a secure and productive working environment, and reducing the possibility for infection and transmission of Covid-19 (particularly the new variant) within Research Complex. We will continue to support you and your efforts to complete your research projects, and if you have any specific concerns please do contact me. If you do already work from home then please continue to do so.

Coffee breaks and lunch

It is important to continue to take breaks throughout the day, for health, concentration and mental wellbeing, but we also need to balance that against minimising interactions as much as possible with these new restrictions. Covid-19 is a spread through social contact, and particularly where unmasking occurs. We would like to ask that you are considerate with reducing the size and duration of a small gathering (e.g. for tea/coffee) and that masking and social distancing is adhered to when this does happen.

Casual Research Complex Users and Visitors

We will be looking at reducing the number of casual users/visitors coming into the building (with the exemption for visitors/casual users for core Covid-19 research) in an effort to protect the full time researchers at RCaH. Zuzanna will be in touch to discuss this should it impact your planned work.


This is a very difficult time at the moment, and all of us at RCaH will be facing different challenges. It’s important not only to take care of our physical health but also our mental health too. If you have not already done so, please sign up to the Wellbeing Newsletter and reach out to your Wellbeing Champions within RCaH – Alison will follow up shortly. We are here to support you.

Core team update

Research Complex has a new Head of Operations, John Hand, who is joining us from EPSRC where he was recently Head of Physical Sciences. John is here to provide operational oversight and support for the core team and provide myself with additional capacity to support the Research Complex community. Please do get in touch with John if you’d like to introduce yourself. John’s email is