OIST Response to COVID-19

Latest Prevention Measures - Effective Friday 3 April - Summary

OIST is now taking the strongest measures possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while allowing operations to continue, in line with the Okinawa Prefectural Government. To support the uninterrupted continuation of OIST operations, rigorous social distancing practices should be observed by all members of OIST. In addition, all managers and PIs should also begin to prepare now for a possible lockdown by trialing home working for their staff wherever possible and ensuring that all units have an agreed business continuity plan. 

As a reminder: all staff who work from home must do so after (1) writing to their manager to formally request to work from home, (2) receiving written permission from their manager to work from home, (3) working with their manager to develop an agreed plan for how appropriate work will be accomplished from home, and (4) recording their work from home correctly on their HEART timesheet. If working from home is due to home quarantine, staff must complete this form, and managers must advise the Health and Safety Office (koji.fukuoka@oist.jp), on a weekly basis, of the number of staff in their section who are observing home quarantine and why. Overtime is not permitted while staff work from home.

• All business travel to mainland Japan now requires permission from the President, Provost, or Chief Operating Officer and 14 days of home quarantine before returning to OIST. Written permission from your manager is required before you can work from home or take special paid leave during this period.

• No essential business meetings with visitors from mainland Japan may take place on or off campus until visitors have home quarantined for 14 days and are symptom free.

• No general visitors, now including family and friends of all OIST members, may enter any part of the OIST labs or administrative buildings.

• No household members or personal visitors may come to OIST from mainland Japan without the entire household home quarantining for 14 days before any member returns to OIST. Written permission from your manager is required before you can work from home during this period.

• Travel to mainland Japan for personal family emergencies requires home quarantine for 14 days before returning to OIST. Working from home or using family care leave or special paid leave during this home quarantine period requires written approval from your manager ⁠— if this is not granted you must use personal leave during home quarantine.

• All personal leisure travel should stop within all of Japan, including Okinawa. If this guidance is ignored for travel to mainland Japan, you and all members of your household must home quarantine for 14 days and may only use personal leave for this quarantine period.

• During quarantine, staff must complete this form, and managers must advise the Health and Safety Office (koji.fukuoka@oist.jp), on a weekly basis, of the number of staff in their section who are observing home quarantine and why.

• Those not following home quarantine regulations are subject to institutional sanctions.

All Current Preventative Measures and Recommendations

    • All general visits to OIST (e.g. school visits, guided and unguided campus tours, weekend tours, group tours, community visits, delegations, conferences, workshops, cultural events, visits from the general public) are cancelled or postponed until April 30. The Community Relations Section has also suspended taking reservations until April 30 with school visit reservations resuming in September 2020. 
    • Vendors, technicians, and business visitors from outside of Japan are highly limited at this point due to various international government regulations. If an absolutely essential vendor, technician, or business visitor is still able to come from oustide of Japan, double quaratine is required with 14 days at the port of entry into Japan and another 14 days in Okinawa with no symptoms before they may enter any building on OIST campus. This entire quarantine period is to be paid by the unit or division.
    • Vendors, technicians, and visitors from mainland Japan are highly discouraged from coming to OIST. If a PI or manager feels the visit is essential, this vendor, technician, or business visitor will be required to home quarantine with no symptoms for 14 days away from campus (e.g. in a hotel) at the expense of the unit or division before they can enter any building on campus.
    • Vendors, technicians, and visitors from within Okinawa are highly discouraged as well in our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep OIST from a lockdown situation. 
    • OIST members' family and friends are barred from coming to campus.
    • International business travel to and from OIST is highly limited on a governmental level. Some absolutely essential travel (returning members of the institution) could still take place by special written permission from the OIST President, Provost, or Chief Operating Officer, but this is now most unlikely. Should any cases arise there will be double quarantine at the port of entry in Japan for fourteen days followed by fourteen days of home quarantine in Okinawa before acces to OIST campus allowed.
    • New hires are now subject to country specific lockdowns and cannot travel. In the unlikely event of an incoming colleague even being permitted to travel in the weeks ahead, they will subject to two-stage quarantine. People offered jobs by OIST have been advised that their start date may be postponed in response to the global pandemic and current travel prohibitions.
    • The Governor of Okinawa Prefecture has advised all Okinawan residents not to travel, even within Japan.
    • Business travel by OIST staff to other parts of Japan is prohibited unless special permission is given in writing by a senior executive member of the COVID-19 management group (President, Provost, Chief Operating Officer). If any colleague is required to undertake critical business in mainland Japan (and a virtual meeting cannot be supported) they must observe 14 days home quarantine before returning to OIST. No member of OIST faculty, leadership, staff or community will be exempt from this requirement. 
    • Serious family emergencies could necessitate travel from Okinawa to other parts of Japan. This will be permitted with manager approval, but home quarantine for fourteen days will still be required upon return. You can work from home where approved, or can use carer, personal or emergency leave to cover your absence.
    • Any personal leisure travel is very strongly discouraged. Tourist amenities and accommodation even within the Okinawa Prefecture receive visitors from mainland Japan, bringing a heightened risk of infection. If you ignore this advice, undertake leisure travel, and subsequently require home quarantine, you will not be eligible for any form of paid leave if home working is not approved. 
    • Staff may not come to work if they have a cough or cold symptoms. Stay at home. Contact your manager by email or telephone to request to work from home. Managers have been asked to support this. If anyone experiences a fever of 37.5 degrees or more in conjunction with cold symptoms such as coughing, they must seek medical advice and may only return to work 14 days after the onset of symptoms.
    • Any colleague at OIST who is over 65 years old, who has a pre-existing medical condition, or is pregnant can remain at home. Please inform your manager if applicable. If you would like to work from home for any other reason, please feel free to speak with your manager who will be supportive of these requests. If you would like assistance with this, please email corona@oist.jp.
    • All managers and PIs are encouraged to begin trialing work from home for staff who are able to work from home. For more information from on how to accomplish this, please read this guidance from the IT Division.
    • OIST has also arranged for the Health Center to offer additional screening and protection to those in the high-risk categories, including pneumococcal vaccination for colleagues over 65 where requested and agreed by a clinician.
    • There is now much stronger advice on social distancing.
      • Laboratories and offices, the CDC and support centers, remain open, undertaking their work. However, within the workplace, please take extra care to avoid unnecessary close contact. Try to keep at least a meter apart from colleagues wherever you can.
      • Do not hold meetings of more than ten people. Try to avoid smaller meetings in cramped spaces.
      • Avoid group lunches and try to avoid food queues. Eat on your own if you can. Throughout April the cafeteria and restaurant will be closed to accommodate new vendors, and there will be expanded bento services.
      • We know this is difficult in a campus community, within offices and our CDC – but please avoid all non-essential social contact on campus, in the OIST Village, and in the wider community. We advise you to avoid crowded areas, restaurants and bars. Keep your distance from people when shopping, where you can. This is not a pleasant situation to be in, but it is one being shared by societies across the world.
    • Custodial staff have increased the frequency of disinfecting high-traffic surfaces such as door knobs, switches, stair handrails, tables, chairs, elevator buttons, toilet flush handles, and toilet seats. Additional disinfectant is now available for use around campus, and masks will also be provided by the OIST Health Center for those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
    • No-touch, infrared thermometers have been distributed for use at the Welcome Desk, the Health Center, and the CDC.

Additional Trusted Resources

If You Need Help or Have a Question

Please contact corona@oist.jp

For Media Inquiries

Please contact media@oist.jp