As part of its efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the US Defense Department now requires the wearing of fabric masks at all of its facilities around the globe.
COVID-19 Masks Now Mandatory at US Defense Dept Facilities Worldwide
In an April 6th press release, the department said "Effective immediately, all individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers. This guidance applies to all service members, DOD civilians, contractors, families (apart from residences on installations) and all other individuals on DOD property."
It cited the recommendation of the US health agency, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to wear such coverings "in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission."
It followed a memorandum issued the previous day by Secretary of Defense Mark Asper in which he outlined the new requirement. "Military personnel, DoD civilian employees, their family members, and DoD contractors are strongly encouraged to follow CDC guidelines," Asper said.
Exceptions may be approved by local commanders or supervisors and then submitted up the chain of command, according to the secretary of defense.
"As an interim measure, all individuals are encouraged to fashion face coverings from household items or common materials, such as clean T-shirts or other clean cloths that can cover the nose and mouth area. Medical personal protective equipment such as N95 respirators or surgical masks will not be issued for this purpose as these will be reserved for the appropriate personnel," he added.
Asper said the department is committed to taking every precaution to ensure the health and wellbeing of its service members, DoD civilian employees, families, and the nation amid the pandemic.