Occupancy Requirements and Limits

Requirements and occupancy limits are listed below for campus spaces. Six-foot distancing between people and wearing a a mask or a face covering are required in all campus spaces, except for dining halls. Yale dining areas have been modified to address the transmission risks of these activities, with different standards for guards and physical distancing.

Principles

Ventilation, the ability to maintain six-foot distancing, and the type of activity (e.g., singing, loud speech, exertion, etc.) are all factors in determining the recommended space occupancies. A related consideration are aerosols, which can stay suspended for hours and build up.

In many Yale buildings, mechanical ventilation is designed to provide moderated air circulation through the occupant’s breathing zone via periodic air changes and fresh outside air. Yale’s engineering team has assessed Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) system operating recommendations for university buildings and the classrooms have been inspected by Yale’s Physical Plant staff to optimize fresh outside air and filtration. In some interior spaces, only natural ventilation is available—via operable windows.

With this in mind, the following general principles apply to indoor spaces:

  • Masks and six-foot distancing are required at all times.
  • Spaces where there is no mechanical ventilation and windows do not exist (or are not operable) to achieve natural ventilation will be either closed or limited to only one individual (i.e., the same individual—no sharing).
  • If people are moving about a space (e.g., not in fixed seating) the space should be limited to one person per 150 square feet so that six-foot distancing can be achieved.
  • In rooms where there is no mechanical ventilation and natural ventilation is achieved only through operable windows, occupancy is limited to one person per 150 square feet or 50% of usual occupancy, whichever is more restrictive. A best practice recommendation is to limit the duration of their occupancy to a maximum of three hours at a time in these spaces, and occupants should disinfect surfaces prior to use.
  • In rooms where there is mechanical ventilation, occupancy is limited to 50% usual occupancy. A best practice recommendation is to limit the duration of their occupancy to a maximum of five hours at a time in these spaces, and occupants should disinfect surfaces prior to use.
  • For spaces that typically were continuously occupied for more than nine hours a day pre-COVID, a best practice recommendation is to vacate the space for an hour a day (e.g., lunch or dinner break) to allow the dissipation of aerosols. Occupants should disinfect surfaces upon re-entry. Yale custodians will disinfect surfaces once or more a day. Overnight, aerosols will disperse

Facilities has posted “maximum occupancy” signs in many rooms and spaces. Contact your Facilities Area Manager or Facilities Superintendent for questions about occupancy and room ventilation.

Auditoriums, Lecture Halls, and Classrooms with Fixed Seating

  • Students shall be spaced six feet apart.
  • This results in less than 50% capacity.
  • Facilities will post “COVID Occupancy Limits.”
  • In lecture halls, properly distanced seats will be designated with floor markers.

Other Classrooms without Fixed Seating

  • Students shall be spaced six feet apart.
  • Facilities will post “COVID Occupancy Limits.”
  • Classrooms without mechanical ventilation are limited to 1 person per 150 square feet.
  • For classrooms with mechanical ventilation, the occupancy limit is less than or equal to 50% of capacity according to the Registrar’s records or, when appropriate, Facilities’ analysis that considers similar rooms.
  • Alternatively, the occupancy limit is 50% of the room’s typical seating (not when furniture is moved, extra chairs are used or brought in, etc. for events).
  • If occupancy cannot be not readily ascertained, limit to 1 person per 150 square feet.
  • Chairs in excess of the occupancy limit should be removed or marked, “do not use.”

Instructional Laboratories

  • Students shall be spaced six feet apart.
  • The occupancy limit is less than or equal to 50% of capacity according to the Registrar’s records or, when appropriate, Facilities’ analysis that considers similar rooms.
  • If occupancy cannot be not readily ascertained, limit to 1 person per 150 square feet.

Meeting, Conference or Seminar Rooms without Fixed Seating

  • Occupants shall be spaced six feet apart.
  • Meeting, conference or seminar rooms without mechanical ventilation are limited to 1 person per 150 square feet.
  • For rooms with mechanical ventilation, the occupancy limit is less than or equal to 50% of capacity according to the Registrar’s records or, when appropriate, Facilities’ analysis that considers similar rooms.
  • Alternatively, the occupancy limit is less than or equal to 50% of the room’s typical seating (not when furniture is moved, extra chairs are used or brought in, etc. for events).
  • If occupancy cannot be not readily ascertained, limit to 1 person per 150 square feet.
  • Chairs in excess of the occupancy limit should be removed or marked, “do not use.”

Residential College and Other Student Social/Activity Space—Studies, Common Areas, Lounges, Activity Rooms, etc.

  • Students shall be spaced six feet apart.
  • Space without mechanical ventilation is limited to 1 person per 150 square feet.
  • When people will be actively moving around the space, the limit is 1 person per 150 square feet.
  • For rooms with mechanical ventilation, the occupancy limit at any time is less than or equal to 50% of the room’s typical seating (not when furniture is moved, extra chairs are used or brought in, etc. for events).
  • If occupancy cannot be not readily ascertained, limit to 1 person per 150 square feet.
  • Chairs in excess of the occupancy limit should be removed or marked, “do not use.”

Libraries and Library Study Areas

  • Patrons shall be spaced six feet apart.
  • At any time, the occupancy limit is less than or equal to 50% of usual capacity. (50% of the room’s typical seating—not when furniture is moved, extra chairs are used or brought in, etc. for events).
  • If occupancy cannot be not readily ascertained, limit to 1 person per 150 square feet.
  • Chairs in excess of the occupancy limit should be removed or marked, “do not use.” 
  • Block off every other computer terminal or every third to ensure 6 ft of social distancing.
  • For periods of time where high traffic is expected, post guards at entrance to count and monitor total number of patrons inside the library.

Spaces with Cubicles

The following rules apply to a well-ventilated work area comprised of single-occupancy cubicles:

  • At any time, only 50% of the cubicles may be occupied. Mark unused cubicle and workstations, “do not use.”
  • People with standing desks in adjoining cubicles must be six feet apart (person-to-person).
  • If the person-to-person distance between seated people in adjoining cubicles is less than six feet, the cubicle wall must be five feet high. The cubicle wall should extend 32 or more inches past the workstation surface. (No partition is required if people are six feet apart.)
  • Seated people in adjoining cubicles with partitions cannot be closer than four feet (person-to-person).
  • While masks or face coverings are not required in private cubicles, masks are strongly recommended:
    • If you are closer than six feet of the person in the adjoining cubicle.
    • If working for eight or more hours in a shared space.
  • Shared workstations must be disinfected after use.

Other Open Spaces with Study Carrels or Workstations

  • Occupants shall be spaced six feet apart.
  • Spaces without mecanical ventilation are limited to 1 person per 150 square feet.
  • For spaces with mechanical ventilation, the occupancy limit at any time is less than or equal to 50% of usual occupancy (e.g., one half of the room’s carrels or workstations).
  • If occupancy is not readily ascertained, limit to 1 person per 150 square feet.
  • Unused carrels and workstations should be marked, “do not use.”

Shared Offices

  • Occupants shall be spaced six feet apart.
  • Spaces without mechanical ventilation are limited to one person per 150 square feet.
  • For spaces with mechanical ventilation, the occupancy limit at any time is less than or equal to 50% of usual occupancy (e.g., one half of the room’s desks or workstations).
  • If occupancy is not readily ascertained, limit to one person per 150 square feet.
  • 50% occupancy is best achieved via scheduling or shifts (e.g., morning/evening, even/odd days, etc.).
  • Shared workstations must be disinfected after use.

Research Laboratories

  • Occupants shall be spaced six feet apart.
  • Reduce the occupancy to less than or equal to 50% normal occupancy or less if needed to maintain required distancing.
  • If normal occupancy is not readily ascertained, limit to 1 person per 150 square feet.
  • When practicable, one person per research bay.
  • Disinfection of shared equipment after use.
  • Avoid working alone.
  • If an essential task unavoidably prevents adherence to these guidelines, contact EHS to perform a risk assessment.

Machine Shops/Maker Spaces

  • Occupants shall be spaced six feet apart.
  • Occupancy must be less than or equal to 50% of “usual occupancy.”
  • If occupancy cannot be readily ascertained, limit to 1 person per 150 square feet.
  • Disinfection of shared equipment after use.
  • Do not work alone.

Tents

While outdoor ventilation is an excellent way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, a tent impedes air circulation. Nearby buildings and other location factors also affect air circulation inside a tent. Tents with sides should not be installed. EHS and Facilities will evaluate tents on campus, augment ventilation when practicable, and post occupancy limits. In general:

  • If ventilation has been deemed adequate and seating is fixed, occupants can be spaced six feet apart.
  • If ventilation has not yet been evaluated, and seating is fixed, occupancy is limited to one person per 150 square feet.
  • If people are moving around, occupancy is limited to one person per 150 square feet.
  • Avoid being in a tent for more than two hours.

Post entrances with “State Regulations” signs available from Yale Printing & Publishing Services’ (YPPS) “Returning to Yale” collection.

Courtyards & Other Confined Outdoor Areas

If fixed seating is used in an outdoor area that is confined such as a courtyard, occupancy is limited by 6-foot distanced seating. If people are moving around, the one person per 150 square feet of space occupancy rule should be used. To allow for movement, planting beds and circulation paths, physical distancing markers will be based on one person per 100 square feet.