Requirements for Physical Distancing and Minimizing Face-to-Face Contact

Your cooperation with these requirements will keep you and others healthy. Face-to face-contact is the primary means of transmitting COVID-19. Distancing, spending fewer days on campus, and an overall reduction in the campus population (de-densification) reduces viral spread and the need to devote Yale resources for disinfection, personal protective equipment (PPE), virus testing, contact tracing, etc.

Remember that you are expected to wear a mask or a face covering when outside or inside any space that can reasonably be expected to be shared—even when distancing requirements are met.

The 5-person maximum gathering limit, effective in May and June, no longer applies. Other State rules are likely to change, so please re-check this page occasionally.

Physical distancing is important when on and off of campus, as explained below.

Work From Home if You Can

Unless asked to return to campus, faculty, staff, students, and trainees who can work remotely should continue to do so.

Stay at Least 6 Feet From Other People

Stay at least six feet (about two arms’ length) from other people. Distance minimizes the risk of both droplet and aerosol transmission. In lobbies, workspaces and where queues may form, install visual social distancing markers to encourage individuals to remain 6-feet apart. These markers are available from Facilities.

Please note: As noted below, please request an evaluation from Environmental Health and Safety for any task that requires that two or more people work within 6 feet of each other (i.e., proximity work). Contact

Proximity training for laboratory researchers will be permitted under specific conditions and with enhanced PPE. EHS approval will be required for any proximity work that does not fall under this general allowance for training in laboratories.

Safe Outdoor Meetings and Gatherings

Studies indicate that there is minimal risk of COVID-19 transmission during outdoor meetings and gatherings, without the use of a tent, of ten or fewer people who are all wearing masks and staying six feet apart. Aerosols readily disperse outdoors. Small groups minimize the risk of incidental contact. 

Note that singing, loud speech, or high-exertion exercise increase the risk of transmission, and additional safeguards may be advisable. Avoid or minimize eating and drinking due to the risk of people temporarily removing their masks. Additional safeguards are also advisable for older adults and people with underlying medical conditions (i.e., people at increased risk for severe illness). Refer to Occupancy Requirements and Limits for criteria for tents, courtyards and other confined outdoor areas since these conditions impede the dispersal of aerosols.  

Requirements for Events, Meetings, Gatherings and Activities

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 for Spring 2021. 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.

Rearrange Space and Establish Discrete Work Zones

Rearrange indoor space to maintain 6-foot of distance between individuals and stagger the position of workstations so individuals can avoid sitting opposite each other. This may require keeping some workstations empty and/or marking workstations that should not be used.

Where possible, segment floors and buildings into discrete zones, prevent movement between zones so that individuals stay within a single workspace or on a single floor. Confine your movement to the same access routes, bathrooms, etc. Close spaces where individuals congregate, such as break rooms and reception areas.

Consider establishing and marking separate routes for entry and exits to minimize the possibility of close encounters when people walk to or from their destination. (In an emergency, people are to take the closest exit.)

Occupancy Requirements and Limits

In additional to the six-foot personal distancing requirement, Yale and State of Connecticut standards limit rooms, floors and buildings to either one person per 150 square feet or 50% of usual occupancy or less. Our objective is to reduce campus density. Effective April 14, 2021, research laboratories are no longer required to limit occupancy based on 50% of normal occupancy; however, six-foot physical distancing and other safety measures must be maintained.

Half of our restroom stalls are marked, “Do not use.” More populated floors and buildings result in congestion in entryways, stairways, bathrooms, elevators, waiting areas, break areas, printer/copier rooms, other common areas, etc. Higher occupancy presents a higher risk of aerosol transmission.

The occupancy standard can be met by scheduling multiple daily shifts for occupants, by grouping occupants and alternating their access (e.g., every other day) or implementing other ways of staggering work schedules.

Examples: In a study or office setting, keep half of the carrels/cubicles unoccupied. Floors comprised of single-occupancy offices should only have only half of the usual occupancy at any time.

Click here for occupancy requirements and limits for the following spaces:

  • Auditoriums, lecture halls, and classrooms with fixed seating
  • Other classrooms without fixed seating
  • Instructional laboratories
  • Meeting, conference or seminar rooms without fixed seating
  • Residential College and other student social/activity space-studies, common areas, lounges, activity rooms, etc. 
  • Libraries and library study areas
  • Spaces with cubicles
  • Other open spaces with study carrels or workstations
  • Research laboratories
  • Machine shops/maker spaces
  • Tents
  • Healthcare and other essential services follow other guidelines. Contact Environmental Health and Safety via for questions. 

Other Shared Indoor Space

Occupancy rules have been posted for bathrooms. Dining areas follow alternative standards for barriers and distancing. Physical distancing rules should be posted for other shared space (e.g., conference rooms, shops, printer rooms, shared labs, etc.) to ensure compliance with six-foot distancing and occupancy limits. Commonly-touched surfaces should be disinfected after use. For shared space that does not require card access, a user log is recommended to facilitate possible contact tracing.

Follow elevator capacity signs and practice safe social distancing. People gathering outside an elevator and people within an elevator should be at least six feet apart. If you are able, use of stairs is encouraged. Wash your hands after touching buttons and hand rails.

Partitions and Barriers


EHS and Facilities may recommend a partition or barrier between individuals where a 6-foot distance cannot be maintained, such as a cashier or point of a transactional service. Plexiglass guards and shields have been installed in reception and dining areas. Facilities can custom fabricate a variety of protective shields and barriers. To order, complete an online Facilities Service Request (VPN required).

Since masks are required at Yale, installation of a partition or barrier is not necessary if people remain six feet apart. Similarly, plexiglass barriers are unnecessary in classrooms because students and instructors are to wear masks and keep six feet from each other.

Note that partitions may not be installed in classrooms, work areas, or break areas for the purpose of spacing people within six feet of each other. Occupancy limits apply. (Dining areas follow alternative standards for barriers and distancing.)

Requirements for cubicles are explained below. In other situations, the partition or barrier should rise five feet from the floor when individuals are seated and six feet from the floor for standing individuals.

While a physical barrier such as a plexiglass guard can limit the transmission of COVID-19 via droplets, they are not a substitute for mask wearing. A barrier is generally inferior to a mask or face covering for source control. Physical barriers do not provide significant protection from aerosols that can accumulate and stay suspended for hours.

Example: Plexiglass barrier installed at reception desk.

Person-to-Person Transactions

Casual face-to-face interactions, commonplace until recently, may now be a source of concern. In order to protect our community, we have established protocols for the ways that we interact and we’ve developed new practices to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Many of us engage in campus activities involving brief personal interactions that customarily have occurred at close range. Some examples of these interactions include riding in elevators, checking out books, registering, distributing materials or paperwork, and purchasing items. In order to reduce exposure and minimize the need for face-to-face interactions in the workplace, the university has worked hard to change procedures, rethink logistics, and alter layouts.  For instance, offices are:

  • Requiring everyone to wear a mask or face covering.
  • Maximizing the ability to maintain the 6 feet distancing during transactions.
  • Reimagining processes to minimize the duration of individual transactions.
  • Scheduling appointments to prevent lines and crowding.
  • Using signage to indicate appropriate spacing if queues are necessary.
  • Using temporary barriers (e.g., plexiglass shields) in those rare instances when distancing is not feasible. For example, at a reception desk, check-in area, or cashier station.
  • Making hand sanitizers available and ensuring that they are used if materials are exchanged.
  • Posting maximum occupancy limits.

Observing these protocols and maintaining health and safety awareness even in brief encounters will support our collective efforts to reduce the spread of COVID‐19 and protect the health of our community.

Other Proximity Work

During the pandemic it is important to change work practices to avoid and minimize tasks that require that two or more people work within 6 feet of each other (i.e., proximity work).

Creative alternatives can often be found, such as the assistance of mechanical devices or remote instruction using Zoom. If proximity work is unavoidable, please request an evaluation from Environmental Health and Safety by contacting

Example: Two people moving delicate artwork or heavy laboratory equipment.

Proximity training for laboratory researchers will be permitted under specific conditions and with enhanced PPE. EHS approval will be required for any proximity work that does not fall under this general allowance for training in laboratories.

Physical Distancing Off Campus

It is important to wear a mask, wash your hands, and minimize face-to-face contact with others when you are not on campus.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes the importance of keeping six feet from others in all social situations. Refer to the latest applicable State of Connecticut capacity limitations for private gatherings.   

Do not stay at gatherings or establishments where people are not keeping six feet from one another. Masks and face coverings may help, but you are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 in a crowed space. 

Think of others. Contracting COVID-19 is a serious concern for young people, even if the risk of severe disease is lower. Infected students who develop mild disease or are asymptomatic can transmit the disease to others, which can lead to increased community transmission and deaths in vulnerable populations.