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COVID-19 Capacity Limitations

Last content update:  November, 16, 2020

 

A. MANDATORY DIRECTIVE ON CAPACITY LIMITATIONS

This webpage provides information and instructions related to capacity limitations, but the rules for capacity limitations are laid out in the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations. Please review the Mandatory Directive to make sure you understand all the requirements. Note that capacity limitations may change if the County moves to a different tier of the State’s Blueprint or if a change is ordered by the County Health Officer. Check the County Public Health Department website regularly to make sure you always know the current Health Officer capacity limitation for your facility.

 

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B. MANDATORY CAPACITY LIMITATION INSTRUCTIONS

 

STEP ONE: Determine whether your facility may operate indoors.

Currently, the following businesses may not operate indoors, even at a reduced capacity:

  • Indoor museums, zoos, and aquariums
  • Indoor gyms and fitness facilities
  • Indoor service at dining facilities, bars/breweries/distilleries, and wineries
  • Indoor smoking lounges
  • Indoor family entertainment centers
  • Indoor cardrooms
  • Any facility hosting an indoor gathering (including movie theaters, places of worship, and private residences)

If your facility falls into one of the above categories, it may not operate indoors, and you must close all indoor operations immediately. You do not need to follow any further steps listed on this page.

If your facility does not fall into one of the above categories, proceed to Step Two.

 

STEP TWO: Determine whether your facility is subject to a specific Health Officer capacity limitation.

The following facilities are currently subject to capacity limitations:

  • Indoor retail stores (including critical infrastructure)
  • Indoor shopping centers (e.g., malls, destination centers, and swap meets)
  • Indoor grocery stores

If your facility does not fall into one of the above categories, it is not subject to a specific Health Officer capacity limitation, and you do not need to follow any further steps listed on this page. You must still limit the number of people inside your facility to ensure that everyone is able to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from everyone outside their household at all times.

If your facility does fall into one of the above categories, proceed to Step Three.

 

STEP THREE: Calculate your capacity limit.

Capacity limitations apply to every room or area in your facility in which members of the public spend time or engage in regulated activities. See the FAQ section below for more information. Rooms or areas that are subject to capacity limitations are considered “capacity-limited rooms/areas.” 

To determine the maximum number of people who can be inside any capacity-limited room or area at the same time, you will need the following information:

  1. The type of facility (for example, “grocery store”);
  2. The normal maximum occupancy for each capacity-limited room/area that has a posted maximum occupancy;
  3. The net square footage of each capacity-limited room/area that does not have a posted maximum occupancy. See the FAQ below for information on how to calculate net square footage.

Once you’ve collected this information, use the calculator tool below to determine the maximum number of people who may be inside each capacity-limited room or area in your facility at the same time. If your type of business is not listed here, your business is not subject to a Reduced Maximum Capacity under the Health Officer Order (but it may be completely closed for indoor operations—see Step One, above).

Maximum Capacity Calculator

Does the room/area have a posted maximum occupancy?

 

Type of Business

Maximum Occupancy:

 

STEP FOUR: Create Reduced Maximum Capacity signage for your facility.

After you calculate the maximum number of people for each capacity-limited room/area in your facility, create Reduced Maximum Capacity signs for each capacity-limited room/area. Each sign must clearly state the maximum number of people who may be inside that particular capacity-limited room/area at the same time under the Health Officer Order. For each room/area, you will need to create one Reduced Maximum Capacity sign for each entrance. A template is available below.

NOTE: Under the Revised Social Distancing Protocol, all Reduced Maximum Capacity signs must be completed under penalty of perjury. This means that everything written on the signs must be truthful and accurate to the best of your knowledge. Knowingly posting Reduced Maximum Capacity signs that include false information is a crime.

 

STEP FIVE: Post Reduced Maximum Capacity signage at the entrance to each capacity-limited room/area.

Post your Reduced Maximum Capacity signs at all entrances to the corresponding capacity-limited rooms/areas. The signs must be clearly visible to anyone entering the room/area.

 

STEP SIX: Make sure your Reduced Maximum Capacity signage stays up to date.

Capacity limitations may change if the County moves to a different tier of the State’s Blueprint or if a change is ordered by the County Health Officer. Check the County Public Health Department website regularly to make sure you always know the current Health Officer capacity limitation for your facility. If the Health Officer capacity limitation for your facility changes, update your Reduced Maximum Capacity signage immediately and post it so customers and staff know the accurate Health Officer capacity limitation.

 

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C. CAPACITY LIMITATION CHART

This chart explains the numbers used to calculate the Health Officer capacity limitations for each type of capacity-limited facility.

Type of Business​ Current Indoor Capacity Percentage Limitation (for rooms with posted maximum occupancies)​ ​Current Indoor Density Limitation with Capacity Percentage Limitation (for rooms without posted maximum occupancies)
Retail stores (including critical infrastructure) ​25% 1 person per 240 net sq. ft.
​Shopping malls ​25% ​1 person per 160 net sq. ft.
Grocery stores​ ​50% 1 person per 120 gross sq. ft.

 

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D. MAXIMUM CAPACITY SIGNAGE TEMPLATE

 

Reduced Maximum Capacity Sign 

Download Reduced Maximum Capacity Sign (PDF)

 

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E. CAPACITY LIMITATION FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Which rooms in my facility are subject to capacity limitations?

Capacity limitations apply to every room or area in your facility in which members of the public spend significant time or engage in regulated activities. Here are some examples of rooms that are likely capacity-limited for each type of facility (Note: only applicable when these facilities are allowed to open indoors):

  • Indoor grocery stores and retail stores (including critical infrastructure): Sales floors, checkout areas
  • Indoor shopping malls: Walkways, concourses
  • Indoor museums, zoos, and aquariums: Galleries, exhibit halls
  • Indoor gyms and fitness facilities: Exercise floors, fitness areas, group fitness rooms, locker rooms
  • Indoor dining facilities: Dining rooms, lobbies
  • Indoor family entertainment centers: Activity or entertainment areas
  • Indoor cardrooms: Gaming areas
  • Any facility hosting an indoor gathering (including places of worship, movie theaters, and private residences): Gathering areas

The above list is not all-inclusive, and other rooms may be subject to capacity limitations as well depending on how your facility is laid out and how it is used. Generally, restrooms, hallways, and other rooms where members of the public don’t spend much time are not subject to capacity limitations, but physical distancing must always be maintained.

If a room in my facility isn’t subject to a capacity limitation, do I still have to limit the number of people who are inside of it at the same time?

Yes. You must always limit the number of people inside each room to ensure that everyone is able to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from everyone outside their household at all times.

Do personnel/staff members count toward the Health Officer capacity limitation?

Yes. The Health Officer capacity limitation sets the maximum number of people who may be in any capacity-limited room/area. This includes both members of the public and personnel/staff. 

How do I calculate gross square footage?  What about net square footage?

Gross square footage is the total square footage of a room/area. For most rooms, this will require multiplying the length of the room (in feet) times the width (in feet). To calculate the net square footage, you must calculate the gross square footage, then subtract all the areas of the room/area that are not open to the public (such as employee-only storage areas) or are not available for active use (because fixtures like boilers or art installations are in the way).

Where did the density limitation numbers in the capacity limitation chart come from?

The density limitation numbers are based on the California Building Code and other public health considerations.

What is a “posted maximum occupancy,” and how can I find it?

All rooms/areas within commercial buildings have a maximum occupancy that is determined by the Fire Marshal based on the California Building Code. The maximum occupancy sets the limit on how many people can use the room/area at once under normal circumstances (but note that the current Health Officer Order sets more stringent requirements on some facilities, as explained above). Under the Building Code, in some rooms/areas, the maximum occupancies must be posted near the main exit. Most rooms used for assembly, dining, and drinking will have posted maximum occupancies.

One of the rooms in my facility has multiple uses, and the different uses are subject to different capacity limitations. How do I determine which capacity limitation applies?

If a room is being used simultaneously for multiple activities that have different capacity limitations, you must apply the strictest capacity limitation that applies to any of the room’s activities. 

My facility has multiple rooms that are used regularly by customers. The only posted maximum occupancy sign I have at my facility applies to the entire facility, not to individual rooms. How do I calculate my capacity limitation?

Generally, as explained above, the capacity limitation calculation should be conducted for individual rooms/areas. However, if you have a posted maximum occupancy for your entire facility, you may use that number and calculate one maximum capacity for the entire facility. But you will need to take steps to spread out your customers and staff to make sure that they are evenly spread throughout the facility and do not cluster together in any particular room. 

The local Fire Marshal gave my business facility a different capacity limitation than the one I got using the square footage calculations listed on the capacity limitations page.  Which capacity limitation do I use? 

If you’ve calculated your Reduced Maximum Capacity using the information and tools listed on this page, but your local Fire Marshal has determined and communicated to you a different Reduced Maximum Capacity for your facility or for a capacity-limited room or area in the facility, you must apply the stricter of the two capacity limits.

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Last updated: 11/25/2020 12:35 PM