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COVID-19 Capacity Limitations

Last content update:  November 30, 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 and other entertainment/recreation facilities (e.g., shooting ranges, adult entertainment establishments)
  • Indoor swimming pools
  • Indoor cardrooms*
  • Any facility hosting an indoor gathering (including movie theaters, places of worship, and private residences)

*note that, as of November 30, 2020, cardrooms are closed both indoors and outdoors.

If your facility falls into one of the above categories, it 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 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.

Refer to the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations to determine if your facility is subject to a specific capacity limitation. 

If your facility is a lodging facility, it is not subject to a general capacity limitation.  However, please note that the following rules apply:

  1. For all common areas open to the public, you must limit the number of people entering the facility to allow everyone to easily maintain at least six feet of physical distance from one another at all times.

  2. Specific use areas (such as gyms or retail spaces) are subject to specific capacity limitations listed in the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations, and you must follow the steps listed on this page for each of those specific use areas.

  3. There may be restrictions on which types of guests can stay in your facility. Pleasereview the Mandatory Directive on Lodging Facilities for current information on these restrictions. 

If your facility is a healthcare facility, it is not subject to a general capacity limitation.  However, you must limit the number of people entering the facility to allow everyone to easily maintain at least six feet of physical distance from one another at all times (unless it would interfere with provision of care).  You do not need to follow any further steps listed on this page.

If your facility is not a lodging or healthcare facility, 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 square footage of each capacity-limited room/area that does not have a posted maximum occupancy.
    1. Note: Some facilities will need the gross square footage for each capacity-limited room/area (when indoor operation is allowed). Other facilities will need the net square footage for each capacity-limited room/area.  See the FAQs below for information on how to calculate both kinds of 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. 

    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 indoor room/area in your facility, create Reduced Maximum Capacity signs for each capacity-limited indoor 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 indoor 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: Develop and implement “metering” procedures to ensure the number of people inside your facility does not exceed your Reduced Maximum Capacity.

    In addition to determining your facility’s Reduced Maximum Capacity, you must also develop and implement written “metering” procedures to track the number of people who are inside your facility at any time and to make sure that your facility’s Reduced Maximum Capacity is never exceeded.  For example, you may post an employee at each entrance and exit of the facility to track people as they enter and exit and to make sure there are never too many people inside.

    Upon request by an Enforcement Officer, you must provide the officer a copy of your written metering procedures and tell the officer the number of people currently in your facility.

     

    STEP SEVEN: 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 Facility 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)
    ​Grocery Store, Drugstore, or Pharmacy ​25% ​           1 person per 240 net sq. ft.
    Other Retail 10% 1 person per 600 net sq. ft.
    ​Shopping malls (See FAQ on shopping mall calculations, below) (See FAQ on shopping mall calculations, below)
    Personal Care Services Business ​10% 1 person per 500 net sq. ft.
    ​Limited Services (e.g. laun-dromats, dry cleaners, pet groomers) 10%​ 1 person per 600 net sq. ft.​
    ​Construction Site (publicly accessible area) 10%​ 1 person per 1,000 gross sq. ft.​
    ​Public Transit (publicly acces-sible waiting area) ​10% 1 person per 1,000 gross sq. ft.​
    ​Agriculture, Food Packing, or Food Processing (publicly accessible area) 10%​ 1 person per 3,000 gross sq. ft.​
    ​All Other Facilities, Including Governmental Facilities (pub-licly accessible area) ​10% ​1 person per 600 net 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 different types of facilities (Note: only applicable when these facilities are allowed to open indoors):

    • Indoor grocery stores and retail stores : Sales floors, checkout areas
    • 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
    • Indoor personal care services businesses: Client service areas
    • Indoor limited services businesses: Pickup/drop-off 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.

    My business is a shopping mall.  How do I calculate my Reduced Maximum Capacity?

    To calculate the overall Reduced Maximum Capacity for the entire shopping mall facility, you must gather the current Reduced Maximum Capacities for each tenant business that is currently operating in the mall, then add all the tenant businesses’ Reduced Maximum Capacities together for the overall Reduced Maximum Capacity of the entire shopping mall.

    Note: If a tenant business is currently closed to the public, you may not include it in your calculations.

    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.

    If I have a very small facility, can I have 1 employee and 1 customer inside the facility at the same time (even though that’s above my Reduced Maximum Capacity)?

    Yes.  For very small facilities that are allowed to be open to the public indoors where the Reduced Maximum Capacity is 1 (or less than 1), you may have 1 customer and 1 employee inside the store at the same time.  Your Reduced Maximum Capacity signs should say “2.” 

    What happens if I calculate my Reduced Maximum Capacity and the result isn’t a whole number?

    You may round up to the nearest whole number (and rounding up is allowed even if your decimal is below .5).  For example, if you calculate your Reduced Maximum Capacity and the result is 13.4, you may round up to 14.  The calculator tool on this page is designed to round up to the nearest whole number for you.

    I run a retail business, and my store sells both grocery/pharmaceutical items and other retail items.  Do I apply the 25% capacity limitation that applies to grocery/pharmacy/drug stores?  Or do I apply the 10% capacity limitation that applies to all other retail?

    It depends on how much of your sales floor is devoted grocery and/or pharmaceutical items.  If 25% or more of the total floor area the store regularly uses for product sales currently supplies grocery or pharmaceutical items, you may apply the 25% capacity limitation.  If less than 25% of the total floor area the store regularly uses for product sales currently supplies grocery or pharmaceutical items, you must apply the 10% capacity limitation. 

    The Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations say that indoor queueing/waiting for takeout is prohibited at dining establishments (restaurants, wineries, and bars/brewpubs/breweries).  Are customers allowed to go inside the dining establishment to place an order?

    Yes.  Dining establishment lobbies, including at fast food/quick service restaurants, may be open to the public, and customers who choose to order take-out at a dining establishment may form a line indoors to order their food.  But customers may not wait inside the restaurant for their food once it has been ordered.  Note that customers who do form a line indoors count against the facility’s capacity limitation, and they must always maintain appropriate social distancing and wear face coverings as required by State and County Health Officer Orders.

    Do any capacity limitations apply to outdoor facilities or worksites?

    Yes. Businesses must limit outdoor capacity to ensure that everyone at the site can easily maintain at least six feet of social distance from everyone else outside their own household at all times, which may require limiting the number of workers or members of the public who are at the site at any time.  Outdoor gatherings may not exceed 100 people, and must comply with the Mandatory Directive for Gatherings.

    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.

    Do I have to enforce the capacity limitations at my facility?  If so, how should I do that?

    Yes, you must develop and implement “metering” procedures to make sure that the number of people in your facility never exceeds the facility’s Reduced Maximum Capacity.  You can choose whichever metering procedures work best for your facility, but you must be able to accurately track the number of people in your facility at all times.  For example, a grocery store may post employees at all entrances and exits and have these employees track the number of people entering and exiting the facility.  Similarly, a government office with a waiting area may designate a worker at the front desk or counter to monitor the number of people in the waiting area.  You must write down your metering procedures and provide them to any County Enforcement Officer who asks to see them.

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Last updated: 12/4/2020 11:57 AM