Updated: December 1, 2022
It is important to not exceed an indoor venue’s occupancy to reduce COVID risk and to ensure safe evacuation in an emergency. Occupancy of indoor spaces for congregating on campus is governed by available seating, fire code capacity, and/or typical occupancy. General occupancy principles are:
- Fire code capacity limits may not be exceeded. This limit is usually posted at the room’s entryway. Contact the Yale Fire Marshal’s Office if you have questions.
- For rooms with fixed seating (e.g., lecture halls), occupancy should not exceed the number of seats in the room. Aisles and entryways should not be occupied.
- 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).
- Classroom capacities are available from 25 Live.
- Reduced occupancy limits may be implemented for some spaces and events where aerosolizing activities take place (e.g., music practice and performance spaces, theaters, and gyms).
- Spacing on stages and performance areas should follow COVID Review Team-provided guidance.
- The Office of Facilities may recommend other occupancy limits based on the room’s typical occupancy and/or ventilation capacity.
- If windows are available, please open them.
- Although not required, reduced capacity limits should be considered for select indoor events that involve eating and drinking, are longer in duration, involve close personal interactions, and involve a large number of visitors.
- Your EHS Safety Advisor can provide space-specific guidance.
For indoor events, meetings, and gatherings, the permitted full capacity of a venue is described above. Please follow these best practices:
- Limit ticket sales to the venue’s occupancy.
- For unticketed events, the venue owner or event organizer must manage occupancy by counting entries and limiting entry when the venue is full.
- To avoid crowding, it may be advisable to post occupancy limits or traffic flow signs.
See Safer Yale Practices for more advice on holding safe events, meetings and gatherings.
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.
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.
Some 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.
To allow air in mechanically ventilated indoor spaces to refresh, we recommend a periodic unoccupied (vacated space) rest period:
- Of 30-60 minutes between events for spaces being used for different highly aerosolizing events (e.g., singing, athletic games, debates, etc.)
- Of 15-30 minutes at some time during meetings/gatherings that are longer than three hours.
While best practices, these recommendations are not advisable if, during the rest period, attendees/patrons will simply comingle in a nearby indoor space.