The New Normal at OIST
Work resumed fully on campus from Monday, June 1, 2020. Thank you for your efforts and for doing so much to support one another. OIST has been able to sustain momentum throughout an extremely challenging period and this has been an organization-wide achievement.
Government restrictions are being relaxed gradually. Our principal objective now is to preserve the health and well-being of OISTers and to protect – to the fullest possible extent – the OIST campus from COVID-19 infection. This will require much stronger reliance on testing and the adoption by all OISTers of the COCOA contract tracing app, which will support institutional effort to track, trace, and protect others from possible infection.
We want to give reassurance to our own employees and to the wider community that OIST business or other travelers are not taking lightly the risk of ‘importing’ COVID-19 to Okinawa. OIST needs to demonstrate that its business travelers are infection free, and that the Institution is meeting high standards of infection control and, where needed, acting fast to contain any incident to the greatest possible degree.
The Japanese national government relaxed travel restrictions within Japan on Friday, June 19, 2020. Travel within Japan is now unrestricted. Trips across prefectural boundaries within Japan are no longer discouraged. Most non-Japanese nationals are still refused re-entry to Japan if they have traveled overseas, and international travel remains heavily restricted.
OIST does not allow international business travel for the time being but is now permitting domestic business travel.
A PCR testing facility started operations at OIST on Monday, June 1.
We have decided to extend the period during which OIST will provide free PCR Testing for faculty, staff and students through to the end of September 2020.
Anyone who travels outside of Okinawa on OIST business will be required to undertake PCR testing before they return to work on campus. Colleagues should follow the steps outlined in the current OIST guidelines on PCR testing, and the relevant webpage and form (English and Japanese). These can be found by typing "PCR Testing" into the Find Links box at the top of https://tida.oist.jp (OIST login required).
On Day 1, when you collect and submit your PCR testing kit, you will have to stay away from campus. You will still be paid on that day. Remote working, if feasible, will also be allowed.
Normal travel processes for the booking and approval of domestic business trips should be followed.
You can also now travel within Japan for personal or leisure reasons if you wish. You do not need to communicate with your manager about your personal domestic travel. Please be aware that some remote islands in the Okinawa prefecture with vulnerable medical systems continue to practice caution regarding visitors, so please take thorough health precautions and check the webpage of the municipality of your destination to inform your decision to travel or not.
If you have traveled for leisure reasons and have stayed in an area of Japan which has reported a local increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19, or where the public authorities have announced a rise in community transmission of SARS-CoV-2, we strongly encourage you to undergo PCR testing at OIST when you return. There will be no fee for this.
In addition, if any member of your shared household returns from travel, OIST colleagues can take the PCR Test on day 4, 6 and 10 after their household member returns, coming on campus from day 1. If any household member develops any symptoms related to COVID-19, the whole household should quarantine and the OIST member of staff should contact the Health Center.
Important: Do not come to work if you have any symptoms associated with COVID-19. Stay at home, using sick leave. Contact the OIST Health Center by telephone or email. They will advise you.
Only holders of Japanese passports are permitted entry/re-entry to Japan for the time being. Most nationalities are currently refused entry to Japan.
We therefore recommend that colleagues do not undertake private international travel in the weeks ahead, unless they have a personal emergency. Discuss this with your manager, who will support and advise you.
When border and visa controls are relaxed, we will let you know.
All members of OIST should install and setup the COVID-19 Contact App (COCOA) from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare on their smartphones or mobile device.
General Measures for Infection Prevention: June 1, 2020 onwards
- On-campus working .
- Only exceptions (with Manager and OIST Health Center agreement) are employees over 65 years old or with a pre-existing medical condition.
- Maintain 2 meters minimum social distance wherever possible. Managers will assess proximity within work spaces and alternative space will be sourced where required.
- Avoid the 3 Cs (Closed Spaces, Crowded Places, Close-Contact settings).
- Open windows and doors wherever you can.
- Wash hands and disinfect ‘high touch’ surfaces such as textbooks, educational tools and equipment.
- Check your body temperature and watch for any cold-like symptoms such as a cough. Encourage people in your household to do the same.
- Sanitize high-touch surfaces on a regular basis. The OIST Health Center can provide materials for disinfection and the housekeeping team at OIST is sustaining extra cleaning of high touch surfaces like push buttons, handles, handrails.
- Please wear a mask in shared spaces open to the wider community.
(Guideline issued by the Okinawa Prefectural Government)
- Wearing a mask in hot and humid summer weather may increase the risk of heat stroke. If you can secure 2 meters minimum social distance when outdoors, a mask is recommended to be removed to prevent the risk of heat stroke.
(Guideline issued by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare)
- Events can be held on the condition that social distancing can be maintained and the 3Cs (closed space, crowded space, close contact) are avoided.
- For indoor events, the room occupancy rate must be no more than 50% of the maximum capacity of the venue.
- Those who have suspected symptoms must not allowed to participate. (OPG guidance)
- No general visitors are permitted on campus until advised otherwise.
- Invited domestic guests visiting campus for essential business should have a temperature check, and complete a health and travel questionnaire, at the Main Reception or Bosai Center.