UC Berkeley officials release updates on travel, parking, health in light of COVID-19

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A campuswide email sent Friday morning details more support services and campus updates in light of the COVID-19, the new coronavirus, pandemic.

COVID-19 has likely been circulating through the Bay Area, so many have probably already come into contact with an infected individual, according to the email sent by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos and Vice Chancellor of Administration Marc Fisher. Testing in the Bay Area has limited accessibility, but the email states that public health officials believe testing would show that many have already been exposed to COVID-19.

Local public health officials are not keeping track of who infected individuals come into contact with except in special circumstances. Currently, the public health strategy is to reduce the number of people exposed to COVID-19 through social distancing and hand washing, which the email states is “most effective when followed by all of us.”

Fisher and Alivisatos said in the email that all events and reservations have been canceled through April 7. They added that campus administration has yet to decide on whether an in-person spring commencement will be held.

Despite the cancellation of events, Fisher and Alivisatos said in the email that there are still limited reasons for people to be on campus, and therefore, parking restrictions have been suspended. They added that UCPD will not be issuing tickets with the exceptions of unauthorized parking in reserved spaces or fire lanes, between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. or in spaces for the disabled without appropriate signage.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of State issued its highest level travel warning, which advises citizens to avoid international travel in light of the pandemic. 

The email urged those whose campus-related travel has been affected by COVID-19 to visit the campus’s travel office website for reimbursement information. For those traveling through Connexxus and need emergency assistance, the email pointed them toward the travel office’s emergency website.

After a Data 8 student set their screen name to an offensive phrase regarding COVID-19 on a Zoom call, Fisher and Alivisatos recognized in the email that xenophobic acts have been reported to campus administration. They added that the behaviors reported are against campus values and community principles, and urged students who experience xenophobia to report it at the campus’s “Stop Hate” website.

“We recognize that many people are experiencing heightened anxiety and fear in response to the current pandemic and the uncertainty that it brings,” Fisher and Alivisatos said in the email. “Now is the time to be practicing compassion and kindness, recognizing that each of us is operating in a state of uncertainty.”

Check here for live updates on the COVID-19 situation in Berkeley.

Contact Sakura Cannestra and Kate Finman at [email protected] .