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NIST Visitor and Contractor Protocols for Mitigating COVID-19 Exposure on NIST Campuses


NIST is committed to protecting the health and safety of our staff and others coming onto our campuses by implementing measures consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to mitigate COVID-19 exposure. To that end, any NIST staff member (referred to below as “sponsor”) bringing visitors or contractors who will be performing work in NIST workspaces onto campus is required to provide the following information to them in advance of the visit. Further, while visitors and contractors are on campus, the sponsor must ensure they comply with the requirements in place to mitigate COVID-19 exposure.

Contractors working under their own safety plans and performing work in areas controlled by them on the NIST campus must work with their contracting officer’s representative (COR) to modify their safety plan to include COVID-19 mitigation strategies. Further, they must abide by NIST requirements when in NIST workspaces.

Restricted Access

The following individuals will not be permitted access to NIST campuses:

  • Anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19;
  • Anyone recovering from COVID-19 who has not yet met criteria to end isolation and return to work;
  • Anyone who has been exposed to someone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, is presumed positive for COVID-19, or has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 14 days; and
  • Anyone who has traveled to or from areas that present an elevated risk or exposure to COVID-19 within the last 14 days.

Additionally, individuals recovering from COVID-19 will be allowed on campus only when the following three conditions are met: 

  • No fever for at least 24 hours without the use of medicine that reduces fevers; 
  • Other symptoms have improved (for example, your cough or shortness of breath has improved); and
  • At least 10 days from onset of symptoms.

Finally, there are individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and others who are at risk. It is the employer’s responsibility to protect its employees. NIST has instituted policies to protect staff who are in these categories. It is the responsibility of the employers of visitors and contractors to have made these considerations as well.

Prior to Campus Arrival

Any individual coming onto campus must conduct a personal health screening by reviewing the COVID-19 Screening Questionnaire. This self-screening must be performed every day an individual wants to access a NIST campus. Anyone answering “Yes,” “False” or “Unsure” to any question should immediately contact their sponsor and not attempt to access the campus. NIST is not collecting this data by any means (hard copy or electronic). By entering campus on a given day, you are indicating that you have complied with this requirement for that day.

Access to Campus

Follow instructions for access to campus provided by your sponsor. 

  • If the Visitor Center is open, obtain a paper “Visitor” badge, but do not put it on. Proceed to the security officer at the gate and display the paper badge and your photo ID against a closed window. If wearing a cloth face covering or mask, briefly remove it while the officer is inspecting the badge and ID. Proceed when waved through.
  • If the Visitor Center is not open, your name will be on a list of approved visitors at the front gate. Proceed to the security officer at the gate and display your photo ID against a closed window. If wearing a cloth face covering or mask, briefly remove it while the officer is inspecting the ID. Proceed when waved through.

While on Campus

Sponsor Instruction

Visitors and contractors are not expected to know all NIST requirements to mitigate COVID-19 exposure. Therefore, sponsors are required to provide location-specific instruction for the workspaces to be visited or used, including traveling though NIST buildings and in common areas.

Cloth Face Coverings or Masks

A cloth face covering or mask is required at all times while on campus unless given explicit direction by the sponsor. An individual who cannot tolerate wearing a secure cloth face covering or mask, e.g., for medical reasons, must notify their sponsor in advance. Please see CDC guidance for safe use of face coverings.

Please note: NIST does not permit use of face coverings or masks (including respirators) that have exhalation valves as these defeat the purpose by allowing unfiltered air to be released. Do not use masks with exhalation valves. 

Workplace Distancing

Individuals on NIST campuses are required to maintain at least 6 feet (2 meters) of physical separation so long as doing so does not create a greater hazard. The sponsor will provide additional requirements or guidance if workplace distancing is not possible.

Personal Hygiene

While on campus, individuals are required to:

  • Refrain from physical greetings such as handshakes and hugs;
  • Cough or sneeze into the arm, shoulder or tissue, and away from others;
  • Keep hands clean by regularly washing with soap and water for 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipe; and
  • Disinfect surfaces and items touched using disinfectant supplies provided by NIST.


Individuals on campus must comply with the directions on signs.

Food and Drink

Cafeterias will not be open. Water fountains will be available; however, NIST is recommending the filling of water bottles, when practical, rather than drinking directly from the fountain.

Created June 24, 2020, Updated August 11, 2020