Details for INL employees and the public

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Event Summary: Details for INL employees and the public

INL News Release
March 16, 2020

INL encourages employees to work from home amid coronavirus outbreak

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Beginning March 17, Idaho National Laboratory will recommend its employees work from home, depending on the nature of their jobs. The announcement came Monday from INL Laboratory Director Mark Peters who says the measures are meant to ensure the health and well-being of the lab’s workers. At this time, no INL employees or subcontractors have tested positive for COVID-19.

Last Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic. On Friday both the nation and Idaho declared states of emergency. Also on Friday, the state of Idaho announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19 in southwest Idaho.

“We have now reached the next level where we need to take more aggressive steps that will help minimize the number of employees and subcontractors required inside our facilities,” Peters said.

Employees whose work requires them to access facilities – including operations, production, research and security – will maintain their normal work routines for the time being. By decreasing the numbers of people at work, the lab will create extra “social distancing” that will help reduce the possibility of infecting others. Other social distancing measures include limiting in-person meetings and encouraging video teleconferencing.

The laboratory has implemented an increased cleaning schedule of areas frequently contacted by staff, such as doorknobs, handrails, food preparation and service areas. Buses are also being disinfected after each route.

INL is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and environment. INL is the nation’s center for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.

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16 March 2020

2:00 p.m.

Beginning Tuesday, March 17, much of Idaho National Laboratory’s staff will be moved to telecommuting status until further notice. This will help protect the employees that must remain on-site performing our vital research mission. By decreasing the amount of people at work, we will create extra “social distancing” that will help reduce the possibility of infecting each other. INL’s work from home policy (telecommuting) allows employees, depending on the nature of their job, to perform their duties away from our facilities. The information below applies to Battelle Energy Alliance employees.

We have now reached the next level where we need to take further steps that will help minimize the number of employees, subcontractors and visitors required inside INL facilities. At this point, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at INL.  

This information will be updated as new or changing information becomes available. Our priority is to help employees and their families remain as healthy as possible while continuing to keep INL’s customer commitments. Please know we are actively monitoring the situation and will continue to keep the lines of communication open.


Q-1 How many INL employees are working from home (telecommuting)?
A-1 Approximately 2,500 INL employees will be telecommuting.


Q-2 What is the status of INL’s operating reactors?
A-2 All reactors are safe and operating under normal conditions and schedules. Employees working in these areas will not be telecommuting.


Q3 Is INL involved in COVID-19 research?
A-3 INL does not currently conduct any research on the coronavirus. Some of the other national laboratories do conduct infectious disease research and development, but not INL.


Q-4 What work will continue onsite?
A-4 Employees whose work requires them to access facilities—including operations, production, research, and secure spaces—are expected to maintain their normal work routine unless future guidance is issued.


Q-5 Will INL buses continue to operate?
A-5 INL buses will continue to operate as normal for INL employees. Buses will be disinfected after each route.


Q-6 Has the laboratory restricted site access in response to COVID-19?
A-6 New hires are allowed to begin work at INL as long as they pass the COVID-19 medical screening questions. Nonessential tours have been canceled until further notice.


Q-7 Have INL-hosted events, conferences or workshops been canceled?
A-7 All nonessential visits, events and conferences have been canceled for the time being and will be rescheduled for a later date. All international visits are suspended until further notice.


Q-8 How has COVID-19 affected lab-related travel?
A-8 All nonessential domestic and international business travel is suspended until further notice. Any essential business travel (as required by the customer) must be approved by the Senior Leadership Team with final approval by the laboratory director’s office. No employees will be obligated to travel if they feel uncomfortable doing so.


Q-9 What if an employee or an immediate family member has traveled from or through a CDC Level 2 or 3 country?
A-9 Employees who have traveled from or through a CDC Level 2 or 3 country in the last 14 days (or have household members who have traveled from or through these countries) must immediately inform their manager. They also must self-quarantine away from work for 14 calendar days from the date they or their household member(s) returned to the residence. If the employee shows symptoms during this time, they must remain quarantined until symptom free for 14 days.


Q-10 Are INL cafeterias still open?
A-10 As of March 17, INL cafeterias are open. Please note the following:

·     Discontinue all self-serve food that is not individually wrapped or “grab-and-go” such as the salad bar, pizza, soup, oatmeal and baked goods.

·     All whole fresh fruit will be washed and wrapped in plastic wrap.

·     Salt, pepper and condiments (ketchup, mayo, mustard, hot sauce, etc.) bottles will be removed from the service areas and individual portions or packets will be available instead.

·     All self-serve coffee sales will be discontinued. Instead coffee will be poured by the barista into a new disposable cup. Baristas have been instructed not to pour coffee into personal coffee cups, but will pour into clean, unused paper cups only. In addition, cream for coffee will also be kept behind the counter and poured by the barista only.

·     Staff will sanitize “high-touch” (countertops, tables, chairs, etc.) areas at least every hour.

·     Staff will be instructed to increase handwashing and to use gloves.