2021 COVID-19 Protocols


Updated August 10, 2021

This is an update to the message sent on July 30 to current and scheduled ACP participants regarding the COVID-19 situation in Pitkin County (which includes Aspen) and measures weíre taking at the Physics Center. In that message, we announced that the Center was moving to an indoor mask mandate on the ACP campus, effective Aug. 1. In addition, we ask that participants---even when outdoors on the campus---avoid forming very dense clusters; e.g., we would like to have no more than 2 people occupying each bench at the rectangular picnic tables.  
Due to increasing case numbers over the last week, the Pitkin County transmission risk assessment has been changed from Moderate to High (https://covid19.pitkincounty.com/covid-status/), as the 7-day incidence of new cases per 100,000 people is now over 100 (https://covid19.pitkincounty.com/covid-data-dashboards/covid-19-stats/) . To put this in perspective, 73% of US counties are now in the same High community transmission category.
 
The July 27 CDC guidance recommended mask-wearing in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status, for all regions with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission, defined as 50 or more new cases per 100,000 people in the last 7 days, which now applies to 90% of US counties. Consistent with that guidance, Pitkin County Public Health is now recommending mask wearing for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in public indoor spaces, including retail, grocery stores, indoor restaurants (except while eating/drinking), etc---see https://covid19.pitkincounty.com/mask-recommendations/.
 
While it appears (based on a biased subsample) that only a minority of retail businesses in Aspen are requiring masks, I advise all participants and those in their travel groups to follow the Pitkin County and CDC guidance when you are shopping or eating in the local area. This will help further minimize the risk of transmission on the ACP campus. If you do have any COVID-like symptoms, please inform ACP staff and please get a negative test before returning to the campus.

Updated July 30, 2021

We have continued to adapt COVID-19 policies on the Aspen Center for Physics campus this summer in response to the evolving public health situation and local, regional, and national guidelines. Given the rapid rise of the Delta variant and new CDC guidelines, effective Sunday, August 1, masks will be required to be worn when inside any buildings on the ACP campus, regardless of vaccination status. The only exception is for participants in their offices with the door closed. (For those few participants sharing an office, we ask that you come to a mutual agreement between yourselves about your mask protocol when both of you are in your office; if either of you wishes to have masks, then both occupants should wear a mask. Please communicate any concerns in this regard to the ACP staff.)

Masks and social distancing will continue to be required for all events and gatherings in Flug Auditorium in Smart Hall. We strongly encourage participants to make maximal use of the outdoor spaces on campus for gatherings. If you or anyone in your travel group experience any symptoms that could be attributed to COVID, do not come to the ACP campus: instead, please have them get a PCR test and only return to the campus if/when the test is negative. We would appreciate your informing the ACP staff in this event.

As of July 30, 67% (87%) of local residents have been fully (partially) vaccinated, and the current COVID-19 risk level for Pitkin County is assessed as Moderate. However, during these peak summer months there is a large influx of visitors from other geographic regions

We will continue to monitor the situation, and it is our hope to continue operating the Center through the remainder of the summer session, but we will only do so if we are confident we can do it safely. Your adherence to this policy will help achieve that goal, and we thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

Updated June 2021

This is an update on the COVID-19 measures that the Aspen Center for Physics is putting in place for the summer 2021 session to ensure the safety of participants and staff during the on-going pandemic. The Center is monitoring the evolving public health situation both locally and globally and will adjust our operating procedures accordingly. In addition to following all applicable CDC and Pitkin County guidelines, the Center may take additional measures that we deem necessary. The following guidelines apply for the ACP campus as of June 13 and until further notice.

The Center is known as a place for physicists to interact informally. We strongly encourage participants to use the outdoor spaces of the campus for interactions. Masks will not be required in the outdoor areas. We encourage everyone outside of family units to maintain physical distancing while outdoors. We have chairs set up around the campus for this purpose.

While indoors, following current CDC guidelines, those who have not been vaccinated should wear a mask, for others it is optional; we strongly encourage distancing while indoors. However, masks will continue to be required for all participants for events in Flug Forum in Smart Hall, including the weekly colloquia. We also ask that people spread out as much as possible for events in Flug, with at least one empty seat in all directions, if possible. ACP participants are expected to attend the weekly colloquia and may do so either in Flug or via Zoom. We strongly encourage workshop organizers to hold their talks outside on the patio or in another outdoor space. If organizers need to use Flug for technical reasons, we ask that they arrange to broadcast any such indoor session on Zoom as well.

The Center will host these outdoor events: lemonade and cookies on Monday at 3:00, barbecues on Tuesday at 5:00, and the reception following the 3:00 colloquium on Thursday. Our public lectures will be held entirely on-line, as they were last year.

If at any time after arrival in Aspen, a participant or a member of their travel group starts to exhibit COVID-like symptoms, the participant should notify the Center, not come to the campus, and schedule a COVID test. If anyone in the travel group tests positive, they and their travel group should not come to the Center campus and should quarantine in their accommodations in compliance with CDC guidelines. Should this happen late in the participantís scheduled stay, the Center will extend their stay in that accommodation until the quarantine period has ended and they can safely travel. If a participantís stay in ACP housing is extended, the participant will be charged for the additional time, in weekly increments. 

While the Center is taking these measures to minimize risk, we will be relying on participants and their travel groups to behave responsibly. As such, the Center cannot guarantee the safety of participants, and they should understand that they are assuming risk by attending. Participants who repeatedly or egregiously violate the Centerís safety protocols will be asked to leave and will not receive a refund. 

While these safety measures will clearly make this summerís ACP experience different, we aim to provide the usual inspiring Aspen experience, with plenty of opportunities to collaborate, exchange ideas, start new projects and discuss physics in person while hiking, biking, and enjoying Aspen and its environs. 

We will continue to monitor the evolving public health situation and hope that some of the measures outlined here might be further eased over the course of the summer.