General Lab Information

Use of Face Coverings

photo of woman donning facemask

Research has shown that wearing face coverings is one of the most effective personal actions we can all take in the fight against COVID-19, and the Department of Energy has mandated that cloth face coverings be worn in public settings at all its labs and sites - including Brookhaven. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidance on cloth face coverings, based on data and experience obtained over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the Lab is also updating its face covering requirements to align with CDC and NY State guidance. The following guidance is effective as of Nov. 12, 2020 and supersedes all previous guidance:

Face Covering Requirements

  • Face coverings must be worn at ALL times in ALL public spaces, including hallways, entryways, restrooms, labs, large indoor spaces (experimental areas, high-bay buildings, etc.), kitchens/lunchrooms, meeting/conference rooms, and other common areas.
  • This includes during all indoor in-person meetings, even if social distancing can be maintained, and also applies when two or more staff are in a Lab vehicle.
  • Face coverings are required to be worn in shared offices.
  • In cubicle areas, face coverings are required. Where possible, use of plexiglass barriers between cubicles are recommended as an additional countermeasure, but they do not negate the need to wear face coverings.
  • When outdoors, face coverings must be worn if social distancing of 6 feet or more cannot be constantly maintained. If you are closer than 6 feet to someone else, even for a few seconds, you must wear a face covering.
  • Recommended options for dining include eating alone in an office, in your car, or in a meeting room. If you dine indoors, you can take your mask off, but you must maintain a minimum 6-foot distance from others at all times.
  • Face coverings are not required to be worn in private offices by an individual working alone. If someone enters the office, face coverings must be worn by both parties.

Face Covering Construction and Proper Fit

  • Face coverings must include at least two layers of protective material.
  • They must cover both your mouth and nose and fit snugly against the sides of your face and under your chin.
  • They may not have an exhalation valve or vent as part of their construction.
  • Gaiters still can be worn but must also meet the double-layer guidance.
  • Bandanas still can be worn but must meet the double-layer guidance, and be worn close to the face and chin (not “cowboy style”).

We have identified a supplier of two-layer gaiters and will have them in stock shortly for ordering by your organization.

As a reminder, face coverings are not respirators or personal protective equipment (PPE). They are also not the kind of masks worn by health care workers (N-95 or KN-95), which you must have supervisory approval to wear at Brookhaven based on work planning and control.

Please remember to wash or replace your face covering regularly. Guidance on making, wearing, and washing face coverings can be found on the CDC website at

This guidance does not replace the need for PPE in medical, radiological areas, or other settings, as determined by work planning and control.