Guidelines for essential travel associated with field or on-location research during the COVID-19 pandemic

These guidelines are subject to change on short notice, depending on CDC travel guidance.

21 May 2020

On May 14, 2020, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed Executive Order 20-25 indicating it remains essential for public health, safety and welfare that individuals continue to stay at or near their home or place of residence, whenever possible. An individual should follow guidance from the Oregon Health Authority when traveling from the individual’s home or place of residence.

Please refer to the Oregon Health Authority and Office of the Governor for travel guidance and restrictions within Oregon.

OSU-sponsored travel remains suspended during the staged resumption of research activities. Exceptions may be granted by the appropriate dean, vice provost or vice president. Exceptions should be very rare, and requests should weigh the relative risks of travel against the potential serious disruption to research or university programs. Examples of critical travel may include:

  • Travel required to fulfill contractual agreements and that may not be canceled or postponed under the terms of those agreements.
  • Travel related to field or on-location work with seasonal or other particular constraints.
  • Travel—generally by automobile—between university locations that is essential to maintain business continuity or to carry out critical research, teaching, engagement, operational or leadership activities. In these cases, we ask travelers to sanitize their vehicles, especially motor pool or other shared vehicles; manage occupancy to maximize social distancing; avoid overnight stays; and limit use of hotels or other public spaces when possible.

Who can travel?

Only researchers that have no symptoms of illness -- or who have not knowingly been exposed to anyone with COVID-19 for the past 14 days -- will be considered for approved research travel.

Travel to the field or on-location site

It is preferred that each participant travel in their own vehicle. If this is not possible, two people per vehicle may be allowed if all occupants wear face coverings during the entirety of travel. If traveling with larger vehicles, travelers should adhere to vehicle occupancy guidelines issued by OSU’s Motorpool. All hard surfaces in the vehicle should be sanitized according to the cleaning standards provided by EHS for lab surfaces prior to beginning the trip, when there is a change in drivers, and at the end of the trip.

Once in the field or on-location

Hand sanitizers and soap and water must be available for hand-washing. Note that hand sanitizers do not work well on dirty hands so accommodations must be in place to wash hands with soap.

Food and gas

Food and drinks should be brought from home. Sharing of food or cooking is not permitted. Take-out or delivery from a restaurant is an acceptable option. Stopping for refueling is permitted.


Overnight lodging must be in individual rooms or in individual tents with individually owned sleeping bags.


At the sign of any symptom of illness in any individual, everyone must return from the field immediately. Upon return, participants must contact their health care provider instructions and must be prepared to self-quarantine for an appropriate period.

Allowable travel distance

Travel that cannot be completed within a single day should be minimized.

Staying in contact

Travel participants must be able to receive daily updates and advice from the university on its COVID-19 response and changes in policies and guidelines.

Maintaining safety

Safety at all times is paramount, and COVID-19 is not the only the only risk we face. It is not acceptable to increase risk in one area to accommodate the guidelines designed to limit exposure to COVID-19.