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The Maunakea Observatories (MKO) have started a temporary suspension of telescope operations following Gov. David Ige’s stay-at-home order aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

MKO employees—comprising more than 500 technicians, astronomers, instrument scientists, engineers and support staff—will stay home and focus on work that can be advanced without in-person engagement at the summit or base facilities. In compliance with Gov. Ige’s order, any interaction at the facilities will be limited to emergency response and essential functions, such as fire alarms or power outages and critical maintenance of the observatories’ delicate instruments to prevent damage and minimize loss of future research. Employees will be required to maintain social distancing if they respond on site.

“The health and safety of our staff and community will always be our highest priority,” said Doug Simons, executive director of Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope. “As one of Hawaiʻi Island’s largest employers, we understand the necessity of doing whatever we can to stunt the spread of COVID-19. That’s why our teams are staying home.”

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