Due to the existing health threat caused by the corona virus pandemic, the Board of Directors of the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) had decided to reduce all activities at the institute to a minimum, starting March 23 and lasting till April 19, 2020 (Phase A). The aim of this preventive measure was to limit the spread of the corona virus and protect our staff from possible infections by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Since April 20, 2020, the FLI gradually began to return to less restricted operation modes (Phase B and Phase C). Thus, in compliance with all regulations and legal obligations, a certain degree of experimental scientific research was made possible again in Phases B and C, in comparison to Phase A.
Phase D began on June 1, 2020, and ended on June 19, 2021, representing the third stage of the COVID-19 contingency adjustment on the way to workplace normalcy at FLI.
Due to the very low numbers of Corona infections nationwide and the progress in the vaccination campaign, the FLI Covid Planning Group decided on further facilitations in the established measures. Thus, the FLI is now in Phase E of Covid-19 operations, as of June 20, 2021. This allows - based on the federal emergency brake - relaxations in working restriction upon experiencing in Jena an incidence value of 35 (number of infections per 100,000 population in the last 7 days) or lower.
Phase E loses its validity should the above-mentioned threshold value be exceeded again on at least three consecutive calendar days. In this case, the FLI guidelines for Phase D will apply again.
If, however, virus variants were to spread rapidly (e.g. variant delta), resulting in an increased risk of infection, we will have to react to this immediately and, if necessary, withdraw the Phase E facilitations again.
The overriding principle remains not to endanger the health of our employees, to ensure the care of our laboratory animals and to prevent further spread of the coronavirus as best as possible.
The general goal of Phase E is to ensure a safe environment for all employees while resuming productive work at the FLI.
The following principles, which are part of FLI’s infection protection concept, shall help to balance these objectives:
- Persons that experience symptoms that resemble COVID-19 symptoms must not enter the FLI.
- The physical distancing between individuals has to be observed strictly at all times. Wherever possible, remote work is endorsed and facilitated.
- Strict adherence to the workplace, personal hygiene, and protection rules.
- Contacts between members of the animal facility staff and other employees have to be avoided whenever possible.
- All measures outlined here should facilitate contact tracing in case of an infection.
- All measures must be communicated in a timely and transparent manner.
The specific measures are being evaluated frequently by the Board of Directors, together with the FLI Covid Planning Group, and adaptations to new developments of the pandemic are issued. Our first priority remains the health of our employees, to ensure the wellbeing of our laboratory animals and to prevent further spread of the corona virus as far as possible.
Phase D and E are characterized by three guiding principles: subsidiarity, minimization of contact, and traceability.
The Federal Government, as well as the State Government of Thuringia, recently modified the COVID-19 management rules in reaction to the decrease in the number of Sars-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19 cases. They defined subsidiarity as an organizing principle whereby decisions should be taken at a local level with the objective to locally manage workplaces responsibly while reducing the risk of Sars-CoV-2 infection. This includes support for employees through clear communication during all phases of FLI measures to manage the threat of COVID-19.
Minimization of contact will be realized by the endorsement of work from remote (home office), by physical distancing and by wearing of masks in cases where certain distances cannot be maintained. Traceability will be ensured by filling in of sign-up sheets, as well as a booking system for common scientific and social areas.
Accordingly, Phase E guidelines closely follow all rules established by the State of Thuringia and the City of Jena. Regular assessments of the current situation will allow for rapid adaptation to new developments and will determine the duration of Phase E.
We will inform about further developments here.
FLI employees can find all important information.