Downing during COVID-19​

During the period of COVID-19 measures, Downing is home to a number of students. The College is pleased to be able to provide a familiar, supportive, secure environment for our residents.

The safety of the College, its students and staff, is best assured when all members of the community work together in a spirit of shared concern.

The University and Colleges are cooperating closely with Public Health England’s (“PHE”) Health Protection Team in Cambridge. The rules and guidance contained here are derived from PHE advice and are intended to promote the safety and well-being of all. It is important that you keep up to date with the latest advice.

Check the University of Cambridge website for the latest advice on novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for staff and students at the University and Colleges. You should also familiarise yourself with the Government’s guidance ‘Staying alert and staying safe – social distancing for all’

The message in Cambridge is KEEP YOUR DISTANCE – STAY SAFE.

Downing COVID Community Agreement

"I will play my part in keeping Downing Healthy"

Guidance for Downing students in residence

  • Exercise and recreation: Spend time outside, as frequently as you wish, for exercise and recreation. This can be done alone or with members of your existing household (those you share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities with). You may also meet outside with up to 6 people from different households, but retaining two metre social distancing. Where all members of the group are from just two households then the maximum number may be greater than six. Training and sports in groups of up to 6 is now permitted, more where all members of the group are from just two households. However, you must maintain two metre distance, minimise equipment sharing and exercise strict hand hygiene. Permitted sports include tennis, croquet, cricket and frisbee.
  • Freedom to return to home residence. This applies to students ‘trapped’ in Cambridge during the lockdown and is now permitted if the move is deemed ‘permanent’ (i.e. until next academic year). Private transport should be used, avoiding mixing households in the same car, and public transport should be avoided if at all possible.
  • Personal hygiene and basic stay at home principles. Continue to respect the existing advice on frequent handwashing, respiratory hygiene, and the guidance on staying at home except for getting food or basic necessities, exercise or recreation, and for medical needs or to avoid harm.
  • Let us know if you are living in non-shared accommodation and feeling lonely or isolated. Guidance coming into force on 13/06/2020 means the College may be able to relocate you to a shared household but this will be possible only where you currently live as a single-person household. Whether or not this is possible will depend on a number of factors but please let your Tutor or the College know if you need support at any stage.
  • Household visits with social distancing. Your household can host a visit from one other household at any one time provided social distancing is maintained (refer to the University's guidance for further risk mitigation steps). Any visitors to households in College accommodation on the main College site must be registered in your name at the Porters Lodge and must be collected from there by you. If you live in an off-site College hostel or private accommodation then you are responsible for retaining a list of your visitors in the preceding 21 days for Test and Trace purposes. Work as a household to minimise the number of visitors to your accommodation areas. It is important to avoid having visitors from multiple households visit your own household at the same time; consider using group-chats to coordinate visits – especially for larger households.
  • As part of a ‘social bubble’. Guidance on meeting people from outside your household allows, in theory, for a person living in a single person household to connect up with a second household (a ‘social bubble’) – enabling closer contact between individuals without social distancing. In the interests of safety and equity to all members of a shared College household, people living in College accommodation will not normally, in most circumstances, be allowed to operate social bubbles in this way. To do so might be unfair or lead to undue pressure on other members of a shared household since a social bubble is permitted to contain only 2 households in total. Further, all members of both households in the social bubble must isolate for 14 days if any member of either household becomes symptomatic.
  • Stay with friends or relations away from Cambridge. Only do this when absolutely necessary. Only stay overnight away from your Cambridge household with members of one other household (social distancing must be maintained) and keep a list of people you stayed with in the preceding 21 days for Test and Trace purposes. 
  • Return to Cambridge from home. Don’t regard the Government’s moves away from lockdown as an opportunity for friends to make the move back to Cambridge. This isn’t about convenience or preference, it’s about keeping ourselves and our family, friends, and neighbours as safe as possible. There is no change in the guidance here – aside from very limited numbers of specific research students no-one should be returning to College accommodation until further notice.  
  • Indoor sports facilities. Don’t use the College gym; this remains closed.
  • Communal areas. Don't use College Libraries, indoor dining areas, computer rooms, and social spaces. These remain closed.
  • Public gatherings. Gatherings of more than six people in public areas are not permitted, unless all members are from the same household.  
  • Indoor public or communal venues outside of the College - such as public restaurants, places of worship. You can meet in groups of up to two households but you must observe social distancing at the venue. Do not interact socially with anyone outside the group you are attending the venue with.


There is signage around the Domus relating to these restrictions; please respect these rules, for the safety of each other and of the staff who are on site, even though they are socially distanced. On a very few occasions students have not followed the spirit of the guidance, which has caused other residents and staff discomfort and some fear.  In these difficult times, please be mindful not only of your own welfare but also that of those around you.

There is some evidence, both nationally and locally, that social distancing is having the necessary effect of reducing transmission, and this rule does apply to you, both in public or private. The College is determined that, as far as possible, the Domus shall provide a safe and secure environment for all.