Washington Open Air Requirements and CO2 Monitoring

Staying up to date with CO2 inspection codes

Recent news has been distributed, that the State of Washington has released a very particular set of guidelines which involves indoor dining requirements, and yes, you guessed it, CO2 monitoring is front and center.

Governor Inslee's reopening plan is a clear indication of the reliance on CO2 values as an indicator of indoor air quality.  It is likely that, like other action plans, other states will pick up on Governor Inslee's directive and utilize it as the basis for their own action plans.

In accordance with the new regulations and updates, the governors office partnered with the Washington Brewers Guild to collaborate with industry partners and state authorities in order to set the "Open Air and Outdoor Seating Requirements". The most important takeaway that many restaurant owners are seeing is understanding the term "open-air" and not just "outdoor" mentioned in the requirements.

In stating this, the updates outlined four potential options that restaurants, beverage industries, and breweries can offer to their customers which applies to both permanent, temporary, and open air dining experiences. The key to complying with the set guidelines is utilizing any combination of the four options and by installing a CO2 monitor in your structure where two entry ways are present.

Below, you will find Governor Inslee's four specific alternatives or requirements to indoor seating meant to increase air flow, to reduce risk, and to further COVID-19 prevention requirements. 

Open Air Concept 1 & 2: Permeable Walls

View the full guideline, here

Open air seating occurs in a structure with one or more permeable exterior walls, allowing outside air to easily exchange within occupied seating areas and maintain carbon dioxide (CO2) levels below 450ppm. 

CO2 values are continuously monitored to ensure adequate exchange with outdoor air to adjust the seating and air flow as needed.

Examples of permeable walls include:

  • open bay doors
  • multiple open windows
  • screened openings
  • open tent panels
  • ventilation holes in side panels
  • uncovered lattices

**Single windows and interior, entrance or emergency exit doors do not count toward permeability.

Open Air Concept 1 

The set seating area has two or more adjacent nonpermeable walls. Occupancy limited to 25% of capacity of the seating area as set by fire code (not including employees).

Open Air Concept 2

The guidelines state that structures which have two non‐adjacent permeable, unblocked walls must allow cross ventilation. This means they must have CO2 monitoring in areas not within direct path of air.

Open Air Concept 1 & 2
Open Air Concept 1 & 2 state specifically that Carbon dioxide (CO2) must be continuously monitored when a seating area is in use to ensure adequate exchange with outdoor air. Should CO2 levels exceed 450ppm for 15 minutes, patrons must be relocated to an open‐air seating option that meets requirements. In addition, the table size needs to be limited to six people and tables must be spaced to allow nearest diners at neighboring table seating to be at least 6 feet apart. Overall windows and doors must be opened 10 minutes prior to seating customers and remain open 10 minutes after customers leave. And furthermore, CO2 monitors must be in the seating area furthest away from the outdoor air source.

Open Air Concept 3: Unobstructed Outside Air
The third set requirement from the Washington open air and seating guidelines, states that seating occurs in unobstructed outdoor air. This includes seating on sidewalks, covered patios, courtyards, or similar outdoor areas. Outdoor seating may have an overhead cover, one wall, and no other impermeable barrier exceeding 4 feet in height within 10 feet of the seating area.

In Open Air Concept 3, table size is also limited to six people and tables must be spaced appropriately to allow near diners and neighboring tables to be at least 6 feet apart.

Open Air Concept 4: Enclosed structure for small groups

The last open air concept stated in the guidelines, proceeds with mentioning enclosed structures. It states that enclosed structures must provide protection from the weather and do include the latest trends with pods, igloos, and similar outdoor structures occupied again, by six or fewer people at a time. These structures must be completely aired out, cleaned, and disinfected before each use. Additionally, business using enclosed seating's must ensure that the limit is one seating group, ventilated appropriately, windows are kept open, and service methods are reduced to eliminate risk.

How to comply with the new Washington Open Air Requirements?


One of the keys to accurately and effectively monitoring to meet the State of Washington requirements is to know specifically what your CO2 values are in real time.  CO2Meter recommends that you review the state guidelines above as well as pay attention to the schematic shown here, which allows for full layout, guideline description and choice of procedure category for requirements 1-4.

In addition, we recommend that you utilize and install a proper CO2 monitor, to adhere to the guidelines, such as the IAQ-MAX CO2 Monitor and Data Logger, TIM10 CO2 desktop monitor, or IAQMini CO2 Monitor.

Pictured above, CO2Meter IAQ-MAX CO2 Monitor and Data Logger

CO2Meter provides a variety of indoor air quality CO2 monitors like those mentioned above, which all meet the requirement for CO2 monitoring and will provide visual indication to your staff and overall establishment, should CO2 values exceed 450ppm. 

If you are nervous about meeting the new regulations or unsure about how to best comply you can always contact the support team at CO2Meter and inquire about additional information.  We are happy to help and provide further assistance to ensure you  comply and maintain open doors. 

For more information, contact us today


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