Occupancy Requirements and Limits

Updated: June 8 2021

Requirements and occupancy limits are listed below for campus spaces. Six-foot distancing between people must be maintained. If 6-foot distancing cannot be achieved, we recommend that offices use the space and layouts they have in creative and flexible ways to accomplish 6-foot distancing. Some offices could schedule hybrid work (on-campus and remote), use space in scheduled shifts, or ask workers to develop their own space-sharing procedures to maintain distancing. Distancing requirements may be relaxed in the coming month or two, so we do not recommend changing office layouts. A shared laptop may allow people to work in an empty conference room or other distanced found space.

Masks must be worn indoors except when an individual is alone in a segregated space, such as when working in a private office or seated in a partitioned cubicle and at least 6 feet from another individual. Masks are not required in outdoor spaces except in gatherings and crowds. In addition to masking and distancing requirements, restrictions on visitors, gatherings and travel remain in place.

HSLs, managers, administrators, and unit leads can see additional planning guidance.

Principles

Ventilation, the ability to maintain 6-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.

Please note: Effective April 14, 2021, research laboratories are no longer required to limit occupancy based on 50% of normal occupancy; however, 6-foot physical distancing and other safety measures must be maintained.

With this in mind, the following general principles apply to indoor spaces (see note above for laboratories):

  • Masks must be worn indoors except when an individual is alone in a segregated space, such as when working in a private office or seated in a partitioned cubicle and at least 6 feet from another individual. Masks are not required in outdoor spaces except in gatherings and crowds. In addition to masking and distancing requirements, restrictions on visitors, gatherings and travel remain in place.
  • 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).
  • 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 6 feet apart.
  • 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 6 feet apart.
  • Facilities will post “COVID Occupancy Limits.”

Meeting, Conference or Seminar Rooms without Fixed Seating

  • Occupants shall be spaced 6 feet apart.
  • Chairs in excess of the occupancy limit should be removed or marked, “do not use.”

Spaces with Cubicles

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

  • People with standing desks in adjoining cubicles must be 6 feet apart (person-to-person).
  • If the person-to-person distance between seated people in adjoining cubicles is less than 6 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 6 feet apart.)
  • Seated people in adjoining cubicles with partitions cannot be closer than four feet (person-to-person).
  • Masks must be worn indoors except when an individual is alone in a segregated space, such as when working in a private office or seated in a partitioned cubicle and at least 6 feet from another individual. Masks are not required in outdoor spaces except in gatherings and crowds. In addition to masking and distancing requirements, restrictions on visitors, gatherings and travel remain in place.
  • Shared workstations must be disinfected after use.

Other Open Spaces with Study Carrels or Workstations

  • Occupants shall be spaced 6 feet apart.
  • Unused carrels and workstations should be marked, “do not use.”

Shared Offices

  • Occupants shall be spaced 6 feet apart.
  • Physical distancing may best be achieved by scheduling or shifts (e.g., morning/evening, even/odd days, etc.).
  • Shared workstations must be disinfected after use.

Research Laboratories

  • Occupants shall be spaced 6 feet apart.
  • 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 6 feet apart.
  • Disinfection of shared equipment after use.
  • Do not work alone.

Tents

All academic and social events, meetings, gatherings and activities for students, faculty and staff of any size (other than those occurring as a regular part of a course or class on the scheduled academic calendar) must comply with Requirements for Yale-sponsored Events. These requirements also apply to all business or social gatherings in administrative units. Contact your unit’s Health and Safety Leader if you have questions.

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 more than two sides should not be installed. EHS and Facilities will evaluate tents on campus and augment ventilation when practicable. In general:

  • All tents and heating must meet building and fire codes. 
  • Please complete a Facilities Service Request to request a tent and provide a COA.   
  • If seating is fixed, and NO sides are installed, occupants can be spaced 6 feet apart.
  • Avoid being in a tent for more than two hours.
  • Provide at least 12 feet of spacing between the seating area and speaker/presenter.
  • If fans are used, ceiling fans must draw air up and pedestal fans must direct air out of the tent. 
  • Tents are not designed to withstand high winds and winter weather. Prior to installation, all tents must have a management plan based on the design (known wind rating and snow loading) which, at a minimum, identifies who is responsible for continuously monitoring the weather and who will remove the tent when required. This management plan must be provided to Facilities prior to installation.
  • Follow all the requirements for Yale-sponsored events including gathering size restrictions, signage requirements and approval requirements. 
  • Tent use this spring is permitted starting April 1st provided the conditions above are followed.

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.

All academic and social events, meetings, gatherings and activities for students, faculty and staff of any size (other than those occurring as a regular part of a course or class on the scheduled academic calendar) must comply with Requirements for Yale-sponsored Events. These requirements also apply to all business or social gatherings in administrative units. Contact your unit’s Health and Safety Leader if you have questions.