Dear Colleagues,

The MBL community has worked tirelessly in recent years to take necessary precautions against COVID-19. All of you have embraced the challenge of helping to mitigate the impact of COVID on our campus while advancing our research and education mission.

Today we are in a considerably better position for managing COVID than we were at the beginning of the pandemic and the latest variants of the virus are less likely to cause severe illness than earlier strains of COVID, especially among those who are fully vaccinated.

Given these factors, I write today with an update that we will lift several of MBL’s COVID precautions, effective Monday, November 7.  As has been the case throughout the course of this pandemic, we will continue to be flexible and adjust as circumstances change.

What’s Changing? 

Masking: Masking will be optional in all MBL spaces, including classrooms and public events and tours. We ask that everyone be courteous of others and respect their masking choices. Individuals who have recently tested positive or have been exposed to COVID are required to wear a mask according to CDC exposure protocols (currently through day 10).

Building Access: Perimeter doors to most campus buildings will be unlocked Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and will no longer require an MBL ID card for access. In addition, all MBL staff will have access to building interior spaces via their MBL ID card. As was the case prior to the pandemic, some spaces (e.g., dormitories and some lab facilities) will be accessible to authorized personnel only. If you find a need for additional access to spaces, you may request that access/clearance through your approving department’s administrative contact.

Visitor & Vendor Registration: Non-residential visitors to the MBL and vendors/contractors will no longer be required to complete a visitor form. MBL hosts are expected be aware of their visitor’s schedule and the campus spaces they will be accessing. As per our existing processes, any research visitors working in MBL labs and staying in MBL housing should register through the MBL’s Whitman visiting research registration system.

Weekly Testing: Voluntary asymptomatic testing of employees will continue but has been reduced significantly in scope. Rapid tests are available to anyone who feels unwell while on campus and may be picked up at the Swope front desk during normal business hours.

Swope Café and Dining Events: Swope Café will reopen for our neighboring scientific organizations and other members of the public. Social or business events (e.g., coffee breaks, mixers, catered dinners, etc.) with food or alcohol will be permitted indoors with no restrictions.

Streamlined COVID Dashboard: We will continue to report MBL positive cases and tests on the MBL Forward website, however we will no longer track Barnstable County and Massachusetts data.

What’s Not Changing?

Personal Health Awareness: Please remember to monitor your health and stay home if you are feeling ill and until symptoms have resolved.

Exposure Protocols & Contact Tracing: It is vital to stay home and get tested if you have potential symptoms of COVID-19, and to follow the MBL’s exposure protocols if you test positive. Remember that anyone who tests positive must stay away from in-person activities until at least five days have passed since the date of the positive test or since symptoms first appeared, and until symptoms have resolved. Any MBL community member who tests positive must promptly self-report to their supervisor, MBL point of contact, and human resources ( 

Vaccination: We are grateful that the vast majority of MBL employees have received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and one booster. Vaccination requirements for employees and residential visitors will remain unchanged (fully vaccinated with the inclusion of at one booster shot). Staying up to date on CDC vaccine recommendations, including bivalent boosters, is strongly recommended.

Thank you for your continued help in upholding these precautions, which are vital to limiting the spread and impact of COVID-19 on our campus and in our community.

Paul Speer
Chief Operating Officer