New, stricter rules require military personnel to wear masks outdoors

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III speaks with Guardsmen at the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., Jan. 29, 2021. (DOD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase)

A new Department of Defense memo imposes stricter face covering rules for those working on military bases, requiring personnel on all installations to wear masks almost everywhere, including outdoors in “shared spaces.”

There are a few defined exceptions.

“Effective immediately, all individuals on military installations, as defined below, and all individuals performing official duties on behalf of the department from any location other than the individual’s home, including outdoor shared spaces, will wear masks in accordance with the most current CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines,” said the memo released last week.

“Individuals must wear masks continuously while on military installations except: (1) when an individual is alone in an office with floor-to-ceiling walls with a closed door; (2) for brief periods of time when eating and drinking while maintaining distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines and instructions from commanders and supervisors; (3) when the mask is required to be lowered briefly for identification or security purposes; and (4) when necessary to reasonably accommodate an individual with·a disability.”

As of Tuesday, the Department of the Air Force reported 26,940 military COVID-19 cases, with 12 people hospitalized and 19,622 people recovered.

The Air Force reported 8,827 civilian COVID cases, with 18 people in the hospital, 6,543 recoveries and 45 deaths.

Among dependents in the Air Force, there were 8,391 COVID cases reported, with six people hospitalized and 5,813 recovered, with three deaths.


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