-A guide for the Governor’s Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery
In response to current volumes of COVID-19 cases, the Governor has developed a new reopening plan which allows limited indoor operations. It will eventually allow more businesses and indoor activities to increase operations while limiting the number of people in the space, referred to as “capacity” in the reopening plan. The technical term is “occupant load.” See the phased plan here and the Governor’s reopening guidance here.
To find the reduced occupant load allowed under the reopening plan, you will need to know the normal occupant load for your space and the maximum capacity allowed under the Governor’s reopening guidance.
Finding the normal occupant load (capacity) for your space:
- Posted occupancy. If you have a posted occupancy limit inside your business, use it as the baseline when calculating your reduced occupant load. Occupancy limit signs are posted in assembly spaces with an occupant load of 50 or more people, including many restaurants and taverns.
- Recent permitting materials. If you recently received a permit for tenant improvements in your space, the precise occupant load of your space may be available on the approved permit plans. If you still have a copy of the final building permit plans, this would likely be the easiest and fastest way to find the official number. You may also be able to find the approved plans by logging into SDCI’s project portal or by contacting the design professional for the permit.
- Estimate based on square footage. SDCI has developed the matrix below to help you estimate your normal occupant load and how many people are allowed in indoor or outdoor spaces under the reopening plan. Using Columns B and C to estimate your existing occupant load will likely result in a number lower than your permitted occupancy but is an option if you do not know your normal occupant load.
|Matrix: Estimating your normal occupant load|
|Column A||Column B||Column C|
|Type of Business
(and link to WA State Reopening Guidance for Businesses and Workers)
|Areas to Measure when Calculating Estimate||Normal Occupant Load Factor
(square feet per person)
|Restaurants/Taverns (Dine-In)||Customer Dining Spaces||15|
|Retail (in-store)||Sales Floors||60|
|Fitness studios (indoor)||Workout Spaces||50|
|Religious and Faith Orgs (indoor)||Spaces of Worship||15|
|Personal Services||All indoor spaces||100|
|Professional Services||All indoor spaces||100|
Estimating your normal occupant load:
- Find the amount of floor space area indicated in Column B. You may be able to find the square footage for your space on your leasing agreement, in any floor plans you have, or on the Certificate of Occupancy for your space. If you cannot determine the square footage (s.f.) of your space in any documentation, you can measure (in feet) the length and width of the relevant areas. Multiply the measured length and width together to get the s.f. of a space.
- Divide the size of your space by the normal occupant load factor (Column B). You can round up to the nearest whole number.
Example: 1,000 s.f. retail sales floor / 60 s.f. per person = Up to 17 people
Finding your reduced occupant load allowed under the reopening plan:
To find your reduced occupant load allowed under the reopening plan, multiply your normally occupant load by the maximum capacity allowed under the Governor’s reopening guidance.
- Check the Governor’s Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery and the Governor’s reopening guidance for capacity limits for your business.
- Multiply your normal occupant load by the maximum capacity allowed.
Example: 17 people x 0.25 = Up to 4 people allowed
Questions about operating in Seattle? Call the Office of Economic Development at 206-684-8090. In-language assistance is available.
Questions about your normal occupant load? SDCI may be able to help you research historical permitting documents, however, permit records will take time to track down, and older, historical records may not be available. SDCI recommends using methods 1-3 above. Submit your questions online at: http://web6.seattle.gov/dpd/LUQnA/?Type=2.