Protect yourself and others

It is vital that we all feel comfortable, confident and safe at Cambridge. We continually monitor the latest public health advice, and we take account of the science.

Although vaccination significantly reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19, other measures to limit viral spread are still important. The idea of each defence against COVID-19 acting as an imperfect barrier which together act as a block – like slices of Swiss cheese - was first applied to the pandemic by Australian virologist Ian McKay and is summarised in a BBC infographic: Vaccines alone will not stop Covid spreading: here’s why 

Measures we can all take to limit the spread of the virus (in addition to getting vaccinated) are: 

Follow the rules of the area you are in

Information on this page is given as general guidelines. Departments and Colleges have conducted risk assessments for their own spaces and activities, and will set rules about mitigation measures locally. Please look out for local signage and follow the rules of the area you are in. These guidelines may be revised in line with changes in the public health situation. 

Rules and guidelines are important in establishing common standards of behaviour and controlling identified risks, but it is also advisable to talk to the people you are working or studying alongside about their comfort zones and expectations. In our diverse, international community there is a wide spectrum of experiences and attitudes to COVID-19 risk, and it will help if we can all be aware of, and considerate towards, other people as we navigate the latest phase of the pandemic together. 

Practical safety measures

Social distancing 

Keeping your distance from people you do not live with is an effective way to reduce your risk of catching COVID-19. Social distancing guidance in University settings is set in response to local risk assessments. Please follow the rules of the area you are in. 


Good ventilation reduces the build-up of airborne virus particles, so you are less likely to catch coronavirus from an infectious person if you are outdoors or in a well-ventilated indoor space. Where possible, prioritise ventilation: this could mean arranging to meet outside, keeping doors and windows open, or leaving time between meetings in an enclosed space to allow the air to change over. All University indoor spaces have had a ventilation risk assessment: please follow local signage and instructions where displayed. 


Face-coverings help to reduce distribution of the airborne particles that spread coronavirus. Rules on face-coverings are set in response to local risk assessments and may vary in different settings according to other factors (such as ventilation). In general, the University and Colleges strongly recommend wearing face-coverings in indoor work or study settings if other people are present. If you wish to remove your face-covering, it is courteous to check that others nearby are comfortable with this before you do so.

Hand and surface hygiene 

It is less common to catch COVID-19 via contact with a contaminated surface but it is possible to be infected if you touch a surface contaminated with the virus and then touch your nose, eyes or mouth. Hand washing with soap and water/ using hand sanitiser remains important. There may also be local cleaning protocols requiring you to e.g. clean a shared desk/workstation between users. Please follow local instructions. 

NHS advice on how to wash your hands effectively 

Increased vulnerability

People who were previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) are no longer advised by the UK government to shield or to follow specific national guidance. As a minimum, you should continue to follow government guidance on staying safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19. You should consider advice from your health professional on whether additional precautions are right for you. See UK government advice here: Guidance for people previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19.