Physical Distancing & Capacity Guidelines

June 26, 2020 (updated September 22, 2021)

Changes to Physical Distancing & Face Coverings on Sept. 9

Effective Thursday, Sept. 9, UMB’s Policy Requiring Use of Face Coverings requires the use of KN95 masks or stronger masks in the following scenarios:

  • KN95s are the only permitted face covering for unvaccinated faculty, staff, and students – whether they have a valid exemption or not. As such, starting Sept. 15, unvaccinated employees and students must wear a KN95 when required to wear a face covering under the UMB Policy Requiring Use of Face Coverings.  
  • At some point in the near future, KN95s will be required for fully vaccinated students, faculty, and staff when participating in classroom and training activities. Fully vaccinated faculty or staff delivering in-person lectures or presentations may remove their KN95 while speaking as long as at least 6 feet of physical distance can be maintained between the faculty member or presenter and the students or audience. Faculty or staff who are not vaccinated must wear a KN95 while presenting. The date of this requirement will depend on the availability and distribution of KN95s across campus and will be communicated as soon as that date is known.
  • Starting immediately, KN95s are strongly recommended for fully vaccinated students, faculty, and staff when participating in group activities where 6 feet of physical distance cannot be maintained or more than five people are present.

Face coverings must be worn indoors at UMB regardless of vaccination status, with several exceptions. UMB’s campus is defined as all property owned, leased, or operated by UMB.

  • Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask in public indoor settings.
  • Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask on UMB buses or shuttles.
  • People may remove their masks when they are inside an office, laboratory, or study area, as long as they are by themselves. 
  • Fully vaccinated people may remove their face covering when seated in a cubicle in accordance with the face covering policy. 
  • Fully vaccinated lecturers have the option to remove their masks while lecturing as long as 6 feet of physical distance is between them and their audience.
  • Masks are not required when people are outdoors, except for at gatherings where attendees will be in fixed seating for more than 15 minutes without 6 feet of physical distancing.
  • People who are not vaccinated must practice physical distancing when they are indoors and remove their face covering to eat or drink. Physical distancing is encouraged for fully vaccinated people when they are indoors and remove their face covering to eat or drink.
  • Physical distancing is encouraged wherever feasible.
Fall Events

As University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) in-person activities increase, many students, faculty, and staff want in-person engagement opportunities. Since there is a high percentage rate among UMB faculty, staff, and students who are vaccinated, hosting in-person events can be conducted safely; however, several considerations must be accounted for to achieve this goal.

Events that adhere to UMB health safety requirements (informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, University System of Maryland, local, and state guidance) can occur on or off campus without needing special approval. Dean or vice president approval is needed for events that exceed established criteria. Faculty and staff should consult their dean or VP’s office to learn of any additional considerations. School-based student organizations should speak with their student affairs deans to learn about additional requirements. Campus-based student organizations can contact UMB Student Affairs.

In addition to guidelines outlined in the UMB Return to Campus Guide, including the UMB COVID-19 Vaccination Protocols and the UMB Policy Requiring Use of Face Coverings, please note the following:

  1. Identify the event’s location and assess how many people can safely attend. Consider attendance at in-person activities as optional and offer hybrid or virtual accommodations when possible. Account for physical distancing restrictions in rooms/facilities and not just capacity limits.
  2. As of Aug. 6, 2021, a face covering must be worn at all times indoors while on UMB’s campus or at an off-campus location occupied by UMB community members (e.g., Shady Grove, MPRC, Donaldson Brown, Columbus Center, etc.), regardless of vaccination status. See the UMB Policy Requiring Use of Face Coverings for additional details.
  3. Offer registration in advance and onsite in case there is a COVID-19 exposure and contact tracing needed.

a. Students, faculty, and staff who are working, studying, or living on campus or in University or affiliated organization buildings on campus, or clinical practices off campus who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19 should call the UMB Hotline.

4. Use current capacity guidelines projected by the University Health Focus Area:



Fall Operations

Indoor gatherings

and meetings

Up to 25 people; larger size meetings require dean or VP approval

Outdoor gatherings

and meetings

Up to 250 people; larger size meetings require dean or VP approval

Events exceeding 25 visitors in attendance

Notify  When a notification is received, the COVID-19 recovery team will consult with the University Health Focus Area and/or others to make specific recommendations and/or collect additional information about the event.

UMB Student Affairs in collaboration with the schools are requiring student organizations to register their events using UMBengaged, an online student engagement platform. The online event registration process will ask students to consider a variety of risks associated with holding events, including, but not limited to, COVID-19 health safety considerations.

Updated guidance regarding events in fall 2021 will be shared as more allowances or restrictions are announced by UMB leadership.  

Food and Drinks at Events

Please refer to the UMB COVID-19 Guidance on Events, Eating, and Drinking for overarching guidance on eating and drinking together. The following is an excerpt from the guidance in regard to logistics with serving food at events, conferences, and meetings:

a) As of Sept. 20, 2021, UMB indoor events may not provide food that is intended to be eaten at the event — only grab-and-go food and beverages will be permitted. This will minimize the need to remove masks while in group settings and thereby reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 on campus.
Building Entries and Exits

Building entry requires the display of a UMB-issued identification badge (e.g., One Card). Upon entry to any UMB building, all One Card badge holders must swipe their badges with the black Lenel security device, which will allow for building capacity to be monitored and support contact tracing efforts on campus.

Hand sanitizer stations will be provided at the entries/exits of each high-traffic building as determined by Facilities and Operations.

Employees should avoid congregating in close proximity during entry into buildings and should maintain physical distancing in line with current recommendations.

Visitors without a One Card are permitted as required for educational, research, and business operations, and must comply with the UMB Visitors Guidance.

This summer, an electronic visitor management system will be piloted before being installed campuswide. Visitors entering campus buildings will check in using a LobbyGuard system at the main entrances near the security guard desks. The kiosk is a small tablet computer with a scanner and printer that will allow a visitor to scan a driver’s license, get their picture taken, and generate a temporary badge via the printer.

Conference Rooms

Conference rooms can be used in accordance with the guidance listed in the Events section of this document above. If conference rooms must be used, the blue Point-of-Use cart cleaning and disinfecting supplies should be provided.

Schools and departments operating in leased and/or multi-tenant facilities will need to work with building management to ensure implementation of the above protocols.

Lunch Rooms and Break Rooms

People who are not vaccinated must practice physical distancing when they are indoors and remove their face covering to eat or drink. Physical distancing is encouraged for fully vaccinated people when they are indoors and remove their face covering to eat or drink.

If you are not eating or drinking, please do not enter an indoor area where people are eating or drinking to engage in conversation as those individuals will be unmasked.

Lunch rooms and break rooms will have signage to indicate maximum capacity, whether for eating or utility usage.

When break room capacity has been met, employees will be encouraged to use available indoor common spaces (conference rooms, etc.) as long as physical distancing requirements can be met and space is available. To assist with keeping lunch rooms and break rooms clean, the use of blue Point of Use carts is encouraged.

In areas where break rooms are not available, employees will be encouraged to eat at their assigned desk or cubicle. It also is encouraged that lunch and break times be staggered to avoid the overcrowding of common lunch rooms or break rooms.


There will be no capacity limits for bathrooms, but UMB advises that all students, faculty, and staff practice patience and civility and follow current physical distancing guidelines when using UMB bathrooms, in addition to using recommended hygiene practices such as thorough handwashing.


All elevators on campus, including those within the UMB-managed garages, will be outfitted with signs that indicate the maximum capacity. Patience and civility are requested from those who must wait for an open elevator. It is encouraged that individuals use the stairs when possible. Hand sanitizer stations will be provided at the exits of each high-traffic elevator as determined by Facilities and Operations.

Configuring Spaces for Learning and Work

Space requirements for learning and workplaces — including classrooms, offices, conference rooms, lounges, information study spaces, and libraries — will vary depending on the primary activity taking place in the space. Regardless of the activity, these spaces must be configured in accordance with current physical distancing requirements.

People who are fully vaccinated may remove their face covering when seated in a cubicle where the wall of the cubicle extends at least 1 foot over their head when seated, and for which a wall of the cubicle is between themselves and other people seated in the area, or they are at least 6 feet from other people in the area. Unvaccinated people must wear a mask when working in a cubicle. 

For the fall semester, UMB does not have a physical distancing requirement or COVID-related room capacity limit for didactic classes. Schools can plan around that expectation. Fire marshal room capacity still applies.