UPDATED: What’s My Occupancy Limit?

occupancyAs businesses reopen, some are restricted to certain limitations based on a percentage of total occupancy. Below is information from experts at the City of Mankato to help you determine the occupancy capacity for your business. Once the occupant load is known, divide the occupant load by the reduction per Executive Order(s).

Mercantile (stores, retail/wholesale stores, sales rooms)

If you do not have a predetermined occupancy load by design then use the following calculation: Square footage of sales area divided by 60.  Square footage of storerooms, stock, shipping areas divided by 300.  Add both numbers, this is your occupancy load.

Business (banks, barber shops/salons, professional services)

If you do not have a predetermined occupancy load by design then use the following calculation: Square footage of area divided by 150 100*, this is your occupancy load.

*This change reflects a Fire Code change from 2015 – 2020.  If the salon or barber shop was built before 3/31/20 they can use the 100.  150 represents a newly constructed (after 3/31/20) building.

Gyms, Health Clubs, and Yoga Studios

Gyms, health clubs, yoga studios and the like are classified as assembly occupancies.  The spaces used for exercise, whether it is a basketball court group fitness room, spin studio, yoga or palates studio, or large open area is calculated as follows:

  • Exercise room: 50 gross sq ft. per person.
  • Locker room: 50 gross sq. ft. per person.

To determine the occupant load of a space, divide the size of the space (sq. ft.) by 50. This will give you the occupant load.

Example: Yoga Studio is 95ft x 45ft = 4275 sq. (95×45). Now take the sq. ft. (4275) and divide that by 50 = 85.5, round up to 86.  86 is the maximum occupancy load that is allowed in the space.

In some cases there might be many spaces within a building that need to be accounted for.  Example: A large fitness center with basketball courts, yoga studio, and a racquetball court.  Each space would have their own occupant load, add them all to determine the overall building occupant load.

Example:

  • Yoga studio: 95ft x 45ft = 4275 sq. ft. divided by 50 = 85.5 (86) for the yoga studio.
  • Basketball court: 94ft x 50ft = 4700 sq. ft. divided by 50 = 94 for the basketball court.
  • Racquetball court: 40ft x 20ft = 800 sq. ft. divided by 50 = 16 for the racquetball court.

Occupancy Load of 196 (86+94+16) for the fitness center

Note: If the occupant load calculations are to ensure compliance with the Governor’s executive order related to COVID -19 (25% occupancy and no more than 250) divide the total occupant load above by four and round up.  This is for patrons and customers, staff are not included in these limits. 

Restaurants and Bars

For Restaurants and Bars with an issued Liquor License:

Your occupancy has already been established and can be found in your liquor agreement.  Please note, having outdoor seating does not increase your occupancy because outdoor seating is a part of your overall occupancy.  The total number of customers at your establishment can never exceed your established occupancy, regardless of how many people the Executive Order allows.  This means that the total number of people dining/drinking using outdoor seating, plus the number of people dining/drinking indoors cannot exceed your occupancy.

For non-liquor licensed restaurants:

The first step is to determine the type of seating: fixed or not fixed, in many cases it may be both.

Fixed Seating is typically bleachers, benches, pews, or seats that are fixed in place and cannot be moved.  Here are the common measurements for fixed seating:

  • Bleachers and pews: one person for each 18 inches of length.
  • Booths (as in a restaurant): one person for each 24 inches of length.
  • Seats (typically with arm rest): one person per seat.

Areas without fixed seating

Here are the common occupant load factors used in assembly setting that do not have fixed seating:

  • Table and chair seating: 15 sq. ft. per person (net area*)
  • Chair seating: 7 sq. ft. per person (net area*)
  • Standing areas and dance floors: 7 sq. ft. per person (net area*)
  • Waiting, queuing areas: 5 sq. Ft. per person (net area*)

Note* Net floor area is used where there are typically larger number of people.  Net are is the space that can actually be occupied by people and excludes areas where people would not normally congregate (such as stairs, restrooms, hallways, and mechanical rooms)

Applying occupant load factors to buildings.

To determine the occupant load of a space, divide the size of the space (sq. ft.) by the occupant load factor (see above). This will give you the occupant load for that area.  You must determine each area and occupant load.  Once you have calculated each area then add them all to determine the overall building occupant load.

Example:

  • Table and chair area (15ft x 35ft) = 525 sq. ft.
    • 525 divided by 15 = 35
    • Occupant load of 35
  • Waiting area (5ft x 15ft) = 75 Sq. ft.
    • 75 divided by 5 = 15
    • Occupant load of 15

Total Occupant Load of 50 (35 + 15)

Note: If the occupant load calculations are to ensure compliance with the Governor’s executive order related to COVID -19 (50% occupancy and no more than 250) divide the total occupant load above by two and round up.  This is for patrons and customers, staff are not included in these limits.

If you have any questions, you can contact city staff for Mankato or North Mankato.

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