LIGO Laboratory's response to COVID-19
Update March 26, 2020: LIGO and Virgo will suspend the O3 run on 27 Mar 2020 at 17:00 UTC.
LIGO Laboratory prides itself on being part of a worldwide collection of scientists. At the same time, each detector is also a part of its local community, and we pride ourselves on being good community partners as well. Right now, both local and worldwide communities are being significantly challenged by COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus).
LIGO Laboratory has recently adopted new operations policies to deal with such situations, and we are putting those policies into practice. To that end, the LIGO observatory sites are implementing two sets of protocols - one for educational and public outreach efforts, and one for primary observatory functions.
LIGO Laboratory's Education and Public Outreach Events
Currently, being responsive to the situations in their own immediate regions, both observatory sites are closed to all visitors, including drop-ins. All tours, public events, and school visits are suspended. More information on when Hanford tours might resume. More information on when Livingston tours might resume.
LIGO Laboratory’s Observatory functions
LIGO Laboratory is suspending its third observing run due to COVID-19. This means that LIGO Laboratory Operation are changing from an active observational science state to a non-observational state that stresses the importance of staff health and safety, as well as the safety of the detector itself. LIGO staff are continuing to monitor the site in order to ensure the safety of the detector, but we are taking measures to limit all operations of the facilities. Measures include:
- Reducing onsite staff to just those essential to maintaining the stewardship of the site and the detector. Essential staff includes those working in shipping and receiving so all sites are still able to receive deliveries.
- Requiring that all non-essential staff members telecommute and practice social distancing.
- Utilizing enhanced communication, training, and cleaning procedures to follow best practices as determined by Caltech and MIT, and state and federal government agencies.
- Suspending all scheduled lab work dedicated to advancing the detector.
LIGO Laboratory will resume normal operations as soon as appropriate, but we won’t reopen to the public until we are convinced that it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we encourage you to look through our current website for elements that interest you.
This will be updated as LIGO Lab status evolves.
More at the LIGO Lab website