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COVID-19 Update: Advice on eating in shared office space

Lunch boxes with food

Autumn is upon us, and along with it comes colder and wetter weather. If you are working in an office on campus, it is becoming harder to find somewhere dry to eat food away from your desk.

To ensure that any shared desks or workspaces are as COVID-safe as possible, we would encourage you not to eat at your desk as the process of eating can increase the spread of germs. If you do not have an alternative to eating at your desk, however, please make sure that all surfaces and equipment in your desk area are wiped clean with disinfectant once you have finished.

You are also encouraged not to ‘eat and work', i.e. handling food and eating at the same time as using your mouse or keyboard. Try switching your screen off, rearranging your desk (where possible) or sitting back while you eat - not only to give yourself a proper break from work, but to minimise contact between food and equipment.

Please also respect local rules around food and drink, e.g. not eating in laboratories or the library, and please be respectful of your immediate colleagues by keeping food preparation to a minimum and ensuring that all communal areas are wiped down.

If, for health reasons, you have to eat and drink at regular intervals (such as during pregnancy or because of an underlying health condition) please speak to your manager so that you can agree on an approach that works best for you.

Remember, it is important that you take regular breaks throughout the day in order to rest and recharge. So if you cannot leave your desk at lunchtime, try to take some time at other points during the day to get outside, take a walk and switch off.

Local guidance for offices and common areas may need to be updated to reflect this guidance. Please let your line manager know if you think any guidance for your area may be out of date.

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