Occupancy Recommendations

Updated: March 21, 2022

Except for events, meetings, and gatherings (see below), occupancy in spaces for congregating on campus is generally governed by available seating and/or typical occupancy, as well as the need for unvaccinated people to maintain 6-foot physical distancing from others while indoors. General occupancy principles are:

  • Avoid crowding and allow sufficient space for those who need or want to distance.
  • Do not add chairs or seating to a space to exceed normal capacity. Do not move chairs to crowd them into a small area of the room (e.g., moving chairs from multiple tables so that they surround a single table).
  • For classrooms, there is no distancing requirement for vaccinated students. (As a reminder, no student is permitted to remove their mask in the classroom.)
  • To avoid crowding, it may be advisable to post occupancy limits or traffic flow signs.
  • Reduced occupancy limits have been posted for spaces where aerosolizing activities take place (e.g., music practice and performance spaces, theaters, and gyms).
  • The Office of Facilities may recommend other occupancy limits based on the room’s typical occupancy and/or ventilation capacity.
  • Your EHS Safety Advisor can provide space-specific guidance.

For events, meetings, and gatherings, the permitted full capacity of a venue depends upon seating and whether it is indoors or outdoors, as shown in the table below.

To ascertain 100% occupancy of a venue with verified acceptable ventilation, use the following guidance:

  • If the capacity of the space you are using is known, determine the permitted occupancy based on this information and the Permitted Occupancy table below.
    • Classroom capacities are available from 25 Live.
    • Posted fire code capacity limits at venues should be used, as outlined above.
  • If the capacity of the space you are using is unknown, calculate the capacity by multiplying the length times the width of the space and dividing it by 15 to determine the capacity. Use the Permitted Occupancy table below to determine the maximum occupancy for the space.
  • In all situations, fire code capacity limits may not be exceeded.

To ascertain 100% occupancy of a venue with non-verified acceptable ventilation, use the following guidance:

  • If these spaces must be used, you must reduce occupancy as described below.
  • If the capacity of the space you are using is unknown, calculate the permitted occupancy by multiplying the length times the width of the space and dividing it by 25 to determine the capacity. Use the table below to determine the maximum occupancy for the space.
  • If windows are available, please open them.
  • Tents with two or fewer sides are considered an outdoor gathering. Follow the outdoor occupancy guidance below.
  • Spacing on stages and performance areas should follow CRT-provided guidance.
  • In all situations, fire code capacity limits may not be exceeded.

Occupancy recommendations are shown in the chart below:

Permitted Occupancy

Whenever possible, please use venues for which the ventilation has been verified to meet Yale COVID standards. See Campus and New Haven Venues Available for Events and Gatherings for a list of on campus ventilation-verified venues. Also see Yale’s Events, Gatherings, and Meetings Guidance for more information. If you have questions, please contact your Safety Advisor or Facilities Superintendent. A private home’s ventilation is nearly always inadequate for a meeting or gathering.

Laboratories Where Minors or Visiting Undergraduates are Present

Minors and visiting undergraduates may be allowed to work in Yale Laboratories in the summer of 2022. If so, occupancies for laboratories where minors and visiting undergraduates are present will be limited to no more than one person per 50 square feet. All laboratory personnel should be counted. Measure square feet from wall to wall. (This metric considers that labs contain equipment, lab benches, etc. within this space.) Applications for minors and visiting undergraduate students participating in educational research and/or clinical activities should be submitted online via EHS Integrator. In addition to requirements for minors and visiting undergraduates to be vaccinated and boosted, other COVID requirements will apply. For more information, see Minors and Visiting Undergraduates.


For information regarding cubicles, please see Safer Yale Practices.


Yale Facilities Operations and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) staff have evaluated the ventilation systems in all occupied buildings, including all classroom spaces. Based on CDC and ASHRAE guidelines, modifications have been made to HVAC systems, which include upgraded filtration, extended run times of air systems, and modifications to air delivery systems to allow high levels of outdoor air supply to serve spaces and optimize work environments. Facilities and EHS have also evaluated environmental conditions in work locations that are naturally ventilated or that have limited mechanical ventilation. For spaces that lack mechanical ventilation and have no windows, ventilation has been enhanced or EHS has suggested limited occupancy. If you have questions about a space, contact your Facilities Superintendent or EHS Safety Advisor for an evaluation.

More details can be found on the Returning to Yale Facilities Information page.

Room Ventilation After Hours

To ensure that your after-hours meeting or activity room is properly ventilated, be sure to submit a Facilities Work Request prior to your event. “After-hours” refers to indoor events and meetings on weekends and after 8:00 pm on weekdays in Yale buildings.*

A Facilities Work Request can be submitted online (VPN required). If possible, please submit 24 hours ahead of the event. Include the following information:

  • Building name
  • Room number
  • Event start and end times

A Facilities Work Request can also be submitted by your Building/Department Administrator, operations manager, or Facility Superintendent. Facilities will ensure that room is properly conditioned for the event/meeting and provide a flush period before and after the event.

*This does not apply to laboratories, residential college/grad housing living areas, athletic facilities, and healthcare areas, which are on a continuous ventilation schedule.

Seasonal Ventilation

buildings are naturally ventilated in the summer (by opening windows), but mechanical ventilation is provided for winter heating. In other spaces without mechanical ventilation, opening a window just a small amount provides significant ventilation without affecting room temperature. This is recommended.

Rest Periods

To allow air in mechanically ventilated indoor spaces to refresh, we recommend a periodic 30-60 minute unoccupied (vacated space) rest period between use of the space for highly aerosolizing activities (e.g., singing, debate, etc.) or meetings/gatherings that are longer than three hours.