Guidance from the RHS for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last Reviewed: 23 March 2020

This document was updated on 23 March to give additional information about funding, and the closure of the RHS office.

The current novel coronavirus outbreak is a rapidly-developing international situation, which will cause significant ongoing disruption. This guidance is intended to support Royal Historical Society (RHS) staff, Council members and grant recipients.

Updates to this guidance will be posted on this page.

The largest proportion of the Royal Historical Society’s non-staff expenditure takes the form of support for early career researchers (PhD students and recent recipients of the PhD). The RHS is committed to supporting these scholars during what we realise is a very challenging time nationally and internationally. Please bear with us as we work to adapt our standard policies to accommodate this set of exceptional circumstances.

Additionally, during the novel coronavirus pandemic, we are exploring ways to re-direct the funding usually allocated for travel to conferences and archives/libraries—which is not currently feasible for researchers to undertake. Instead, we hope to facilitate research undertaken remotely and/or research activities that promote historical researchers’ exchange of ideas and wellbeing during this unprecedented peacetime crisis.

Our priorities at this time are to ensure that a) no-one feels under pressure to put their own or others’ wellbeing at risk for RHS-related or funded work and b) individuals don’t incur significant personal expense related to RHS-funded activities as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak.


Royal Historical Society Staff and Council

  • During the current outbreak RHS staff, and members undertaking RHS business, are working from home, and at flexible hours as necessary. The RHS’s physical office is closed until further notice.  Caring responsibilities, limited access to resources, and personal circumstances may mean that responses to queries may take longer to answer than usual. Please bear with us in these exceptional circumstances.
  • RHS-sponsored meetings and events will be postponed, cancelled or moved from physical to virtual locations as appropriate until it is considered safe to resume group and large group meetings. It will take some time for us to determine an indicative schedule, and changes will inevitably occur over time.  We will endeavour to provide updates in a timely manner.  In the meantime, an archive of podcasts and videos of past events can be found here:
  • If any RHS staff or Council member develops symptoms of COVID-19, they should self-isolate and follow up-to-date NHS guidance:
  • If any RHS staff or Council member develops symptoms of COVID-19, or has had contact with a confirmed case, the RHS will follow government guidelines:
  • In any event, current government and NHS advice should be followed and may supersede this guidance.


Visitors to the RHS

  • The RHS office is now closed until further notice, and RHS-sponsored events have been postponed, cancelled or moved to virtual spaces. The guidance below pertains to any visits made to the office or to RHS-sponsored events prior to Friday 20 March.
  • If, within fourteen days of attending our office or one of our events, a person tests positive for COVID-19, or subsequently self-isolates as a precaution, we ask to be notified by email:
  • Visitors to the office/events who have recently travelled to/from the places identified by the NHS as being at increased risk are asked to notify us:


Recipients of RHS Research Expenses grants and Conference Travel grants

  • If a recipient of a personal RHS grant has not already booked travel and accommodation for research or to attend a conference, they will be allowed to delay their research plans for up to 12 months (or until the date of a rescheduled event) and still receive full funding;
  • If a grant recipient has already purchased travel and accommodation before 16 March 2020 and these cannot be refunded, the RHS will:
    • not request the return of any expenses already claimed from the RHS;
    • where at all possible, honour its commitments to reimburse individuals if other avenues of refund (e.g. insurance and credit card company) have been exhausted.


Recipients of RHS Conference organisation grants

  • Conference organisers are welcome to postpone events for up to 12 months and still receive full funding;
  • If a conference is delayed or cancelled and non-refundable travel or accommodation costs for conference speakers have already been booked, the RHS will cover the costs initially provided for if other avenues of refund (e.g. insurance and credit card company) have been exhausted.

Please let us know of any changes or send any queries or requests for reimbursement to Imogen Evans, RHS Administrative Secretary by email:


Future Funds for Rescheduled Research and Conference Trips, and RHS sponsored events

  • As the situation improves, the RHS will assess the impact on its funded activities. While we cannot yet guarantee to be able to provide additional funds at a later date to support re-scheduled events, we will do our best to provide opportunities for new or top-up applications.
  • We will make such decisions at a later date, contingent upon funds being available.


New applications for RHS Funding

  • New applicants should continue to apply to our funding streams as usual if a scheme is currently advertised on our website.
  • We are actively considering new ways of supporting early career History researchers during the current crisis and if feasible will channel funding into one or more interim schemes to support virtual research and ECR wellbeing during the current crisis. Please continue to visit our website, and follow our Twitter account @royalhistsoc for latest updates.


Please direct any queries or communications regarding this guidance to Ms Imogen Evans, RHS Administrative Secretary by email: Please direct other enquiries about RHS business to


Wishing everyone all the very best.