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COVID-19 Indoor Capacity Limitations: Instructions and Resources

Revised:  March 24, 2021​


REQUIREMENT TO FOLLOW STATE RESTRICTIONS AND COUNTY MANDATORY DIRECTIVE ON CAPACITY LIMITATIONS

 

This webpage provides information and instructions related to indoor capacity limitations, but the rules for capacity limitations are found in two places:

  1. State Industry Guidance page: Establishes percentage-based capacity limitations for various industries and activities under the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy (“Blueprint”). Check the drop-down menu for your industry to learn whether a Blueprint capacity limit applies to your industry. 

  2. County’s Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations: Clarifies the rules for how to apply and calculate Blueprint capacity limitations and for posting capacity-related signage.

 

Please review both the State Industry Guidance page and the County’s Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations to make sure you understand all the requirements.  Note that your Blueprint capacity limitation may change when the County moves to a different tier.  Check the State’s website regularly to make sure you always know the current Blueprint capacity limitation for your facility. 

MANDATORY CAPACITY LIMITATION INSTRUCTIONS

STEP ONE: Determine whether your facility may operate indoors.

Blueprint capacity limitations apply to indoor spaces that are open to the public.  If State rules currently prohibit your facility from operating indoors at all, then your facility may not be open to the public indoors, and you must close all indoor operations to the public immediately.  You do not need to follow any further steps listed on this page.

If your facility is not completely closed indoors, proceed to Step Two.

STEP TWO: Determine the Baseline Maximum Occupancy for all indoor rooms/areas in your facility.

All businesses, even businesses that aren’t subject to a Blueprint capacity limitation, must determine the Baseline Maximum Occupancy for every indoor room/area in their facility.  Note that semi-outdoor spaces (like tents/canopies that are placed outdoors) are considered indoors if they do not meet the State Public Health Officer’s definition of an outdoor space.

Here is how to determine Baseline Maximum Occupancy for an indoor room/area:

  1. If the room/area has a normal maximum occupancy from the Fire Marshal, the normal maximum occupancy is the room/area’s Baseline Maximum Occupancy. Note: Almost all indoor rooms/areas will have a normal maximum occupancy from the Fire Marshal.

  2. If the room/area does not have a normal maximum occupancy from the Fire Marshal, you must calculate the Baseline Maximum Occupancy using a ratio of 1 person per 75 gross square feet. See the FAQs, below, for more information on this calculation.

STEP THREE: Determine whether your industry is subject to a Blueprint capacity limitation.

Refer to the State’s industry guidance page to determine if your industry is subject to a Blueprint capacity limitation. 

If your industry is not subject to a Blueprint capacity limitation, you must always (1) comply with the Baseline Maximum Occupancy for every indoor room/area in your facility, and (2) except as otherwise provided in State guidance, limit the number of people inside your facility to make sure everyone can easily stay at least 6 feet away from everyone not in their household.  You do not need to follow any further steps listed on this page.

If your industry is subject to a Blueprint capacity limitation, proceed to Step Four.

STEP FOUR: Determine which rooms/areas in your facility are capacity-limited.

Blueprint capacity limitations apply to every indoor room/area in a facility that members of the public visit in order to engage in activities subject to the State’s COVID-19 rules.  Rooms or areas that are subject to Blueprint capacity limitations are considered “capacity-limited.”  Generally, places where members of the public don’t spend much time (like hallways, stairwells, or bathrooms) are not considered capacity-limited.  See the FAQs, below, for more information on capacity-limited rooms/areas. 

STEP FIVE: Calculate the Reduced Maximum Capacity for each capacity-limited room/area in your facility.

To calculate Reduced Maximum Capacity, you must take the Baseline Maximum Occupancy for each capacity-limited room/area in your facility and apply the current Blueprint capacity limit for your industry.  For example, if a room/area in your facility has a Baseline Maximum Occupancy of 200, and the State imposes a 25% Blueprint capacity limitation on your industry, then you may allow no more than 50 people into that room/area at a time.

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

Once you have calculated the Reduced Maximum Capacity for every capacity-limited room/area in your facility, you must create signs that clearly state those Reduced Maximum Capacities.  For every capacity-limited room/area, you will need to create one Reduced Maximum Capacity sign for each entrance.  A template is available here.

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

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

STEP EIGHT: Enforce the Reduced Maximum Capacity in each capacity-limited room/area.

You must enforce the State’s Blueprint capacity limitations within your facility and may not allow any capacity-limited room/area to exceed its Reduced Maximum Capacity.  This includes both personnel/staff and members of the public. 

STEP NINE: Stay up to date on your industry’s current Blueprint capacity limitation.

Your industry’s Blueprint capacity limitation may change if the County moves to a different tier.  Check the State’s industry guidance page regularly to make sure you always know your industry’s Blueprint capacity limitation under the current public health orders.

 

CAPACITY LIMITATION FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:​

If my facility is allowed to be open indoors but isn’t subject to a Blueprint capacity limitation, do I still have to limit the number of people who are inside of it at the same time?
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Yes.  You must always (1) follow the room’s Baseline Maximum Occupancy, and (2) except as otherwise provided in State guidance, 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 not in their household.​
Which rooms in my facility are subject to Blueprint capacity limitations?
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Under the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations, Blueprint capacity limitations apply to every indoor room/area in your facility that members of the public visit in order to engage in activities subject to the State’s COVID-19 rules.  Here are some examples of rooms that are likely capacity-limited for different types of facilities (Note: only applicable when these facilities are allowed to open indoors):

 

  • 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
  • Any facility hosting an indoor gathering (including places of worship, movie theaters, cardrooms, and private residences): Gathering areas, lobbies

 

The above list is not all-inclusive, and other rooms may be subject to Blueprint 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 Blueprint capacity limitations (but 6-foot physical distancing must be maintained, except as otherwise provided in State guidance, and these rooms may never exceed their Baseline Maximum Occupancy).​​

Do personnel/staff members count toward capacity limitations?
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Yes.  Capacity limitations set the maximum number of people who may be in a facility at the same time.  This includes both members of the public and personnel/staff. ​​
Do any capacity limitations apply to outdoor facilities or worksites?
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Yes.  Except as otherwise provided in State guidance, businesses must limit outdoor capacity to ensure that everyone at the site can easily maintain at least 6 feet of social distance from everyone else outside their own household, which may require limiting the number of workers or members of the public who are at the site at any time.  ​
What is a normal maximum occupancy, and how can I find it?
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All rooms/areas within commercial buildings have a normal maximum occupancy that is determined by the Fire Marshal based on the California Building Code.  The normal maximum occupancy sets the limit on how many people can use the room/area at once under normal circumstances (but note that the State Blueprint currently sets more stringent requirements on some facilities, as explained above).  Under the Building Code, in some rooms/areas, the normal maximum occupancies must be posted near the main exit.  Most rooms used for assembly, dining, and drinking will have posted maximum occupancies.  If you don’t know your facility’s normal maximum occupancy and it’s not posted, you can find it by reviewing your facility’s planning documents or contacting the Fire Marshal.​

For businesses that don’t have a Blueprint capacity limitation: How do I calculate the Baseline Maximum Occupancy for a room/area if the Fire Marshal hasn’t given that room/area a normal maximum occupancy?
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If the Fire Marshal has not set a normal maximum occupancy for an indoor room/area (which is uncommon), you must calculate the Baseline Maximum Occupancy for the space using a two-step process:

  1. First, you must calculate the total area of the space that is open to the public (in gross square feet). Usually, this will be the length of the space times the width of the space.

  2. Second, you must apply a density formula to calculate the space’s Baseline Maximum Occupancy using a ratio of 1 person per 75 gross square feet.

 

Example: A business is allowed to be open indoors in the county’s current tier and does not have a Blueprint capacity limitation.  The business has an open-air pavilion that does not have a normal maximum occupancy from the Fire Marshal.  The pavilion does not meet the State’s outdoor definition, so it is considered “indoors” by the State Public Health Officer.  The pavilion measures 150 feet long by 100 feet wide.  To find the Baseline Maximum Occupancy for the pavilion, the business must take the following steps:

  • First, the business must calculate the gross square footage of the pavilion:
    • (150 feet long) x (100 feet wide) = 15,000 gross square feet.
  • Second, the business must use the density formula to calculate the Baseline Maximum Occupancy for the pavilion:
    • (1 person / 75 gross square feet) x (15,000 gross square feet) = 200 people.
    • (Note: You can also do this calculation by dividing the gross square footage by 75.)
  • Result: The pavilion’s Baseline Maximum Occupancy is 200 people.
For businesses that have a Blueprint capacity limitation: How do I calculate the Reduced Maximum Capacity for a room/area if the Fire Marshal hasn’t given that room/area a normal maximum occupancy?
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If the Fire Marshal has not set a normal maximum occupancy for a capacity-limited room/area (which is uncommon), you must calculate the Reduced Maximum Capacity for the space using a three-step process:

  1. First, you must calculate the total area of the space that is open to the public (in gross square feet). Usually, this will be the length of the space times the width of the space.

  2. Second, you must apply a density formula to calculate the space’s Baseline Maximum Occupancy using a ratio of 1 person per 75 gross square feet.

  3. Finally, you must apply your industry’s Blueprint capacity limitation to that Baseline Maximum Occupancy to get the Reduced Maximum Capacity for the space.

 

Example: A business has a Blueprint capacity limitation of 25% in the county’s current tier.  The business has an open-air pavilion that does not have a normal maximum occupancy from the Fire Marshal.  The pavilion does not meet the State’s outdoor definition, so it is considered “indoors” by the State Public Health Officer and is subject to the 25% capacity limitation.  The pavilion measures 150 feet long by 100 feet wide.  To find the Reduced Maximum Capacity for the pavilion, the business must take the following steps:

  • First, the business must calculate the gross square footage of the pavilion:
    • (150 feet long) x (100 feet wide) = 15,000 gross square feet.
  • Second, the business must use the density formula to calculate the Baseline Maximum Occupancy for the pavilion:
    • (1 person / 75 gross square feet) x (15,000 gross square feet) = 200 people.
    • (Note: You can also do this calculation by dividing the gross square footage by 75.)
  • Finally, the business must apply its Blueprint capacity limitation to the pavilion’s Baseline Maximum Occupancy:
    • 25% of 200 people = 50 people.
  • Result: The pavilion’s Reduced Maximum Capacity is 50 people.
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One of the rooms in my facility has multiple uses, and the different uses are subject to different Blueprint capacity limitations. How do I determine which Blueprint capacity limitation applies?
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If a room is being used simultaneously for multiple activities that have different Blueprint capacity limitations, you must apply the strictest Blueprint capacity limitation that applies to any of the room’s activities.  ​
Do I have to enforce the capacity limitations at my facility?
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Yes.  Businesses are responsible for making sure their facilities do not exceed any applicable capacity limitations.  Failure to do so may lead to County enforcement action.​
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Last updated: 4/9/2021 1:44 PM