Announcement to staff and students that the University is moving into its 'red phase' in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Dear colleagues,

The government yesterday declared that it expects to take “further and faster” measures in coming days. I am writing to let you know that, in light of these latest government announcements, and of recent developments including a growing number of staff members now working from home, the University has today moved into its “red” phase in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.


We are asking students – both undergraduate and postgraduate – to return home now, if possible. It is especially urgent for international students needing to make travel arrangements to do so as quickly as possible, as many countries are already imposing travel restrictions. Students unable to leave Cambridge will continue to be supported by their Colleges, and College accommodation will be available if needed.

There will be no face-to-face teaching in the Easter term, and there will be no examinations in Cambridge. All teaching will move on-line. The University will communicate with all students by the end of March about alternative assessment arrangements.

We urge students to address any questions they have about pastoral care, welfare, finance and counselling to their Colleges.


We are asking all University staff, excepting those needed for business-critical activity, to begin working from home by 5:00 pm on Friday 20 March.


All University libraries will be closed to all users from 5:00 pm today.

From 5:00 pm on Friday 20 March, all other University buildings will be closed to students.

Some buildings will have to remain open to some members of staff for basic maintenance, IT functionality, security, key research or other business-critical activities. Those buildings may include:

  • research labs where research is being undertaken relating to Covid19 or other areas in the immediate national interest;
  • buildings where business-critical activity needs to take place on site;
  • buildings where animal or plant care is necessary.

Buildings that remain open must be able to do so safely and securely. Heads of Institution are asked to make the necessary decisions about building closures, and to communicate them promptly to their teams. All Heads of Institution will receive guidance later today.

I urge colleagues to make the necessary arrangements over the next two days. We expect to be communicating with you daily over the next few days. Do look out for these messages.

We are all facing an unprecedented crisis. It may be months before we resume normal activity. Throughout that period, the University will endeavour to keep you informed and up-to-date. We will need all the fortitude, resilience and generosity of our collegiate University community to get us through. I am confident that this crisis will bring out the best in all of us.

With best wishes,


Professor Stephen J Toope


Creative Commons License
The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified.  All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – as here, on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.