Increase in allowed laboratory density

March 25, 2021

Dear Johns Hopkins Community,

Thanks to the diligent efforts of thousands of faculty, staff, and students during the last nine months, our resumption of laboratory-based research activity amid the COVID pandemic has been conducted safely, with no known cases of transmission in those settings. Since our initial reopening last summer, we have taken careful steps to increase the level of activity in our labs as public health conditions have permitted, and now the state of the pandemic and the continued success of our operations have allowed us to do so again. Starting on April 1:

The density restrictions in laboratories will be relaxed.

  • We will now require the equivalent of a 7.5-foot diameter around each person. (That accounts for 6 feet of distance between individuals, plus 1.5 feet for each person’s body.)
  • This density standard allows for approximately 44 square feet per person, compared to the previous standard of 150 feet per person.
  • It is the same standard now in place in Johns Hopkins classrooms and the same or similar to the restrictions now in place at many peer universities, which have also seen little to no evidence of COVID transmission in lab settings.

Low-density in-person group meetings will be allowed.

  • Participation will be limited to 10 people, including the PI.
  • Meetings must be conducted in spaces large enough to allow participants to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from one another.
  • Meetings in faculty offices are not allowed.
  • Masks must be worn, and no food may be served.
  • Remote options must be made available for anyone not comfortable with meeting in person.

Both changes are in accordance with current Centers for Disease Control guidelines and have been reviewed and endorsed by Johns Hopkins’ Health & Safety Planning Committee.

We will continue to closely monitor the status of the pandemic nationally, locally, and within the Johns Hopkins community, and if we can further increase the density of activity in our labs, we will do so incrementally. But if conditions worsen, we will not hesitate to enact stricter standards to protect the health and safety of our lab-based students, faculty, and staff.

We also urge you to do your part to help make this expansion of activity a success. Please remain diligent in your COVID safety practices: Wear a mask, maintain physical distance, monitor yourself for symptoms, participate in required testing, and wash your hands frequently—even if you have been vaccinated.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your divisional vice dean for research.


Denis Wirtz
Vice Provost for Research