Columbia announced it would end capacity restrictions on indoor gatherings beginning November 1, according to an email sent out to students on Wednesday afternoon.

According to an email sent today by the Provost of Columbia University Mary C. Boyce, Columbia will be lifting attendance caps for all indoor gatherings on November 1. Only events with non-CU attendees continue to have these attendance limits with exceptions subject to University approval. The full text of the email will be provided at the end of the article.

In her email, Provost Boyce cited declining COVID-19 cases within both New York City and the Columbia University community as indications of Columbia’s readiness to ease indoor capacity limits. Currently, the University has a 0.22% COVID-19 positivity rate while New York City has a 2% COVID-19 positivity rate. According to Columbia’s Framework for COVID-19 Risk Assessment and Management, the University is currently in the yellow zone, indicating a low risk level for contracting COVID-19 in the Columbia community. In her email, Provost Boyce also indicated that though indoor restrictions are lifted, Columbia’s indoor mask requirement will still continue until at least the end of November. 

This announcement marks the latest development in Columbia’s changing restrictions on indoor gatherings. On September 17, in accordance with rising COVID-19 cases within the University, indoor gatherings restrictions mandated a 10-person cap on indoor gatherings for Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students. However, later on September 30, the cap was adjusted to 25 people for both Columbia and Barnard. With the latest email from Provost Boyce, the 25-person cap will also be lifted. This lifting of capacity restrictions also closely follows Columbia and Barnard’s resumption of indoor dining for undergraduate students on October 13, marking Columbia’s increasing efforts towards a complete return to normal in-person schooling.

Email sent to Columbia students from Provost Mary C. Boyce and University COVID Director Donna Lynne on Wednesday, October 20 at 4:10 pm:

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community,

Now more than halfway through the fall semester, we have observed the continued success of COVID-19 mitigation measures, which have allowed us to relax some precautionary measures and expand campus services, most notably by opening student dining halls to indoor dining on October 13. 

Within New York City as a whole, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been declining as vaccination uptake continues to rise. In our own on-campus community, Columbia’s COVID-19 testing positivity rates remain consistently below 0.5% and our community is over 99.9% compliant with the vaccination mandate.

With these positive developments in mind, we will ease capacity restrictions on gatherings for Columbia affiliates, expanding opportunities for activities like student club events, performances, and social gatherings. On November 1, all indoor gatherings for the Columbia community will have attendance caps lifted, with the exception of indoor sporting events, which will be limited to 70% capacity. Only events with outside guests will continue to have attendance caps; approval is still required for requested exceptions for those events. Food services at all events will remain grab-and-go.

As people spend more time indoors as temperatures drop and the holidays approach, other safety measures are more important than ever.

Thus, we are extending the indoor mask requirement, which provides an important layer of protection for our community. Keep in mind that you may remove your mask to eat or drink indoors, but you must maintain six feet of distance from others and minimize time unmasked. This will continue at least through the end of November.

We also ask you to keep the ReopenCU app handy and complete daily symptom attestation before coming to campus. Please refrain from coming to work or class if you don’t feel well.

Those who travel for the holidays are encouraged to do so with caution and take advantage of voluntary testing before and after travel.

The President’s Task Force on COVID-19 will continue monitoring changing public health conditions daily and will assess the University’s safety measures accordingly. As always, we will keep you updated through announcements and our COVID-19 Resources website.

Thanks to every member of our community for taking care of each other through masking, daily symptom attestation, compliance with the vaccination mandate, and other important measures. Here’s to a continued safe, healthy, and successful fall.


Mary C. Boyce


Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Donna Lynne

Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, CUIMC

University COVID Director

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