Effective immediately individuals must wear masks continuously while on military installations.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III signed a memo which, effective immediately, directs all individuals on military installations and all individuals performing official duties on behalf of the Department from any location other than the individual’s home, including outdoor shared spaces, to wear masks in accordance with the most current CDC guidelines.
Individuals must wear masks continuously while on military installations except:
▪ When alone in an office with floor-to-ceiling walls with a closed-door;
▪ For brief periods of time when eating and drinking;
▪ When the mask is required to be lowered briefly for identification or security purposes; and
▪ When necessary to reasonably accommodate an individual with a disability.
▪ Individuals must consistently wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth and that comports with all current guidance from the CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Do I have to wear my mask in my car, even alone? YES!
But I don’t work for the military, does this apply to me? YES!
What if we are training out in the field? YES, that too.
You will wear it even walking alone outside, at a park, etc.
The memo signed Thursday requires everyone on military installations or performing Defense Department duties to wear masks.
“Individuals must consistently wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth and that comports with all current guidance from the CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration,” the memo reads. “Locations, where masks must be worn, include any common areas or shared workspaces (including open floorplan office spaces, cubicle embankments, and conference rooms) and in outdoor shared spaces.”
Masks recommended by the CDC include non-medical disposable masks, masks with breathable fabric such as cotton, masks made with more tightly woven fabrics, masks with two or three layers, and masks with inner filter pockets.
“COVID-19 is one of the deadliest threats our Nation has ever faced. As we have done throughout our history, the military will rise to this challenge,” Austin wrote in the memo. “It is imperative that we do all we can to ensure the health and safety of our force, our families, and our communities so we can prevail in this fight.”
“Novelty or non-protective masks, masks with ventilation valves, or face shields are not authorized as a substitute for masks,” the memo reads. “Masks must fit properly (snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face).”
To date, part of the success in keeping COVID-19 out of the ranks is due to the prudence of commanders around the country and the world, who have been given flexibility by the former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to take measures they deem appropriate. The armed forces have also canceled or postponed large-scale exercises that bring together thousands of people in one concentrated locale.
Social-distancing protocols have been instituted on military bases. Basic training was temporarily suspended or scaled back as new screening and testing protocols were put in place; much of it is already ramping back up.
According to the CDC, there have been more than 900k cases in the U.S. in the past seven days alone.
How to Protect Yourself When Going Out
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others.
- Stay six feet apart from others who don’t live with you.
- Avoid crowds.
- Avoid poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
What Symptoms to Watch For
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are
- Muscle or body aches
- Loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
Other symptoms are signs of serious illness. If someone has trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure, or difficulty staying awake, they should seek medical care immediately.