Single User Experiments in Run 3/2020


The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a number of operational constraints that have to be applied to ESRF users and staff alike. The need for social distancing, as well as potential travel restrictions for users due to regulations adopted by the various national authorities and/or users’ institutions, have led to a preference for “remote” experiments over the coming months. Indeed during Run 2/2020 (Aug/Sept/Oct), only remote experiments were allowed at the ESRF.

During Run 3/2020 (Nov/Dec), the ESRF will begin allowing “single user” experiments. One member of the external user team will be allowed to be present onsite, to improve the efficiency and success of the experiment by having an expert member of the user team present and also to ease any difficulties related to sample or equipment transport, since the user can travel with the samples/equipment.

Preference should continue to be given to fully remote experiments whenever possible, keeping the number of users travelling to/from the ESRF to the strict minimum necessary.

The limit of one external user per experiment applies independently to what hutch or laboratory the user is likely to work in, or whether users are likely to work in the same area or not. This is to limit the number of visitors onsite.

The Standard User Safety training now includes content concerning COVID-19 safety rules for onsite ESRF users. All users must follow this safety training before coming onsite, even if already followed less than 1 year ago, as the COVID-19-related content is updated regularly.

Users who present symptoms must not come onsite.

Any user who starts to present symptoms while already onsite should immediately contact the Control Room - by using a red emergency telephone or dialling 10 on a normal telephone or ESRF mobile phone - and self-isolate to protect colleagues (in the Guesthouse room if non-local user, at home if local user).

The ESRF Safety Group will provide the necessary protective equipment for users who come onsite, in the same way they do for staff. All users must enter the ESRF via the Main Entrance where they must wash their hands and pick up a mask. They must then go straight to the beamline where the experiment is taking place, and where the hygiene equipment on the beamline can be used. Apart from trips to the onsite restaurant, sandwich counter and Guesthouse, users should otherwise avoid moving around on the site.

All users must respect the ESRF safety rules, including those concerned with COVID-19 situation, as described in the Standard User Safety training.

There is no country restriction applied by the ESRF for external users. Users from any country can come onto the ESRF site as long as they have been allowed to enter France by the French authorities and have completed all formalities requested of them by the French authorities.

The users are responsible for checking restrictions related to their travel to Grenoble and back to their home country. This includes checking the necessity to quarantine, to present a negative COVID-19 test, to complete obligatory travel documents required by the French authorities, the airline companies, and by the authorities of the user home country. Users should ensure that any formalities are completed in a timely fashion to allow them to arrive on the ESRF site in time for their experiment.

Reduced Logistics Onsite

Only 36 Guesthouse rooms are available (one person per room, maximum). This should be sufficient to house all non-local users onsite, but local users will not have access to the Guesthouse due to the reduced number of rooms available. In the case that the Guesthouse is full, non-local users will be housed in hotels in town as usual.

The reception desk is open from 7h to 12h and from 17h to 20h, from Monday to Friday (from 7h to 12h during weekends). Outside these hours, room keys are left at the site entrance.

The ESRF has installed plexiglass walls in the reception area; hydro-alcoholic gel is provided at the entrance to Building A, in the reception area and in the breakfast room.

In view of the restrictive measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the normal functioning of the Guesthouse is modified:

  • Check-out time is now 10.30 each morning to allow sufficient time for room ventilation and cleaning;
  • For visitors not paid for by ESRF, payment must be made by credit card (no payment in cash or by cheque);
  • Daily room cleaning is suspended; for long stays, API Restauration will propose a change of room for the replacement of sheets, pillowcase, towels and hygiene products;
  • The TV lounge is closed, as well as the breakfast room outside service hours.

Breakfast at the Guesthouse

Breakfast service is organised in time slots: from 7h to 7h45 and from 8h15 to 9h, with each slot restricted to 18 people maximum. Only people staying at the Guesthouse can have breakfast (no externals).

Advance registration is necessary on a form made available at the Reception desk by API Restauration. Access to the breakfast room without reservation will only be possible within the limit of available seats.

API will give each registered person a tray prepared in advance (with bread, butter, jam, pastries, fruit juice...), and offers a choice of dairy products, fresh fruit and cereals as well as hot drinks.

The access to the breakfast room is through the door from the Reception and the exit through the door leading to the outside of the building (direction of circulation).


Onsite eating options are reduced compared with normal operation.

In view of the restrictive measures related to the COVID-19, the normal functioning of the onsite restaurant is modified: the distribution of consumers is organized as follows:

  • ESRF users and staff should eat on the Ground floor restaurant, ONLY:
    Opening hours:
    • during weekdays: 11h30 -13h15 (lunch) and 19h00 - 20h30 (dinner)
    • during week-ends and bank holidays:  12h00 - 13h30 (lunch) and 19h00 - 20h30 (dinner)
  • Reduced Choice of meals on offer: a starter, a main course (one meat , one fish and one vegetarian dish available), along with vegetables, a starch food, soup, cheese and a dessert;
  • Please respect the direction of circulation and the seating arrangements in place, and maintain social distancing while in and around the restaurant.
  • Masks must be worn at all times, except once seated and eating the meal.

The sandwich counter is open from 11h30 - 13h30. Masks must be worn at all times and the user must leave the premises as soon as they have purchased their food.

The operation of vending machines in the LOB, the CTRM and the Experimental Hall is suspended until further notice. The LOB cafeteria is open but the vending machines are not available.

Users should ensure that they stop working and go to the restaurant and/or sandwich counter when they are open. User from the Grenoble area may consider preparing and bringing in meals from home. The LOB cafeteria can be used for eating, as long as the social distancing measures are respected (1 person per table).

In the case that users miss the available opening times at the restaurant and sandwich counter, there are restaurants, bakers and a supermarket on the Avenue des Martyrs (15mins walk or 1 tram stop away - stop Marie-Louise Paris CEA).


Completing the A-Form - Information for Main Proposer

Only one non-local external user will be allowed onsite per experiment; all other members of the user team must access the experiment remotely.

Users who will be involved in the experiment remotely must be identified using the checkbox “Remote User”.

For the user who will come onsite, fill in the A-form normally, indicating if there is a request for travel organization, Guesthouse reservation and reimbursement (do not click on the “Remote User” box).

Local (Grenoble area) external users should not request travel or the Guesthouse, but can request reimbursement in which case meal credits for using the onsite restaurant will be available on their user badge as before.

All samples must be declared in the A-form as for fully remote experiments. Sample sheets must be added at the level of the proposal, and then declared in the A-form for the experiment session in question. See the instruction web page for Remote Experiments on Non-Structural Biology beamlines for details on how to do this.