Not only are government researchers barred from their own labs during the government shutdown, but they cannot travel anywhere else, either.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who were in San Francisco, Calif., attending a meeting on cytokines found their trips unexpectedly cut short when the government began shutting down at midnight on October 1.  As soon as the news broke, NIH officials told the travelling researchers to come back immediately “by any means necessary."

The organizers quickly rescheduled the meeting so that all the NIH employees could give their talks before the agency officially shut down. “They told us giving a talk after that was a federal crime,” says one NIH immunologist who asked that her name not be used, as she is not authorized to speak to the press.