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Facility Guidance on Restroom Access


COVID-19 Restroom Guidance

This guidance document is to inform facility directors and building coordinators of best practices and considerations for restroom use in Cornell facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.


In all spaces across campus, the goal remains to decrease the probability of human-to-human spread of SARS-CoV-2. Shared restrooms have not been identified as a source of infection, though SARS-CoV-2 virus and RNA have been detected in human feces and sewage (CDC COVID-19 FAQ). As facility managers evaluate restrooms there are some key items:

  • OSHA and the NYS Building Code have strict requirements for the number of lavatories per facility occupancy. Facilities or their occupants are not permitted to restrict access or reduce occupancy below the number of toilets, urinals, and sinks in a particular location.
    • Occupants could implement practices to minimize their exposure to other persons by not using adjacent stalls, urinals, or sinks to maintain social distancing, however, occupants or facilities staff are not permitted to restrict or monitor access.
  • In restrooms with multiple entry doors, prop the inner door so there are less touch points, as long as this doesn’t significantly decrease privacy.
  • Supply paper towels in restrooms which only have hand dryers.
  • A face covering or mask must be worn in restrooms
  • Post signage inside and outside the restroom to remind occupants to practice proper hand hygiene and of the mask requirement.
  • Within restrooms, contact is generally limited: in some restrooms there could be distances less than six feet, usually for less than 10 minutes. Stall walls and a door provide physical barriers, while face covering contain a person’s respiratory droplets.
  • Restrooms have dedicated local exhaust fans that provide 20-70 cubic feet per minute of exhaust, additionally restrooms generally have higher air exchange rates than offices and common areas.
  • Custodial staff are cleaning restrooms more frequently to decrease concerns about common touch surfaces - door handles, dispenser buttons, stall handles, faucets, paper towel dispensers, however you should always practice proper hand hygiene prior to exiting.

Personal Behaviors:

  • Stay home when you are sick. If you become sick at work, distance yourself from others, contact your supervisor, and return home.
  • Exercise good hand hygiene – wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching high-contact surfaces after washing hands by using a paper towel grasped between your hand and the high-contact surface, such as a faucet or door handle.
  • Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, and mouth).