Mask requirement.jpeg

A long-awaited masking order was sent out by the Department of the Defense of last week.

It said individuals must wear a mask at all times while on military installations except when:

• An individual is alone in an office with floor-to-ceiling walls with a closed door;

• For brief periods of time when eating and drinking while maintaining distancing in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidelines and instructions from commanders and supervisors;

• The mask is required to be lowered briefly for identification or security purposes;

• And when necessary to reasonably accommodate an individual with a disability.

“While not every condition we may encounter is spelled out clearly, it is incumbent on the employee to meet the intent of the message,” Garrison Director of Operations Ron Thomas said in an email to the workforce. “Common sense must prevail and be used in those cases/conditions that are not directly covered in the attached memo, pending any future guidance from higher headquarters. If you have questions, please contact your supervisory chain for further clarification.”

The memo said, masks were required in “any common areas or shared workspaces (including open floorplan office spaces, cubicle embankments, and conference rooms) and in outdoor shared spaces.”

Thomas went on to clarify that outdoor activities like running, cycling and working may be done without a mask as long as the individual can maintain 6 feet of separation from others in accordance with the CDC’s social distancing guidance.

The memo also mentioned specific guidelines for the types of masks that should be worn.

“Masks recommended by the CDC include non-medical disposable masks, masks made with breathable fabric (such as cotton), masks made with tightly woven fabric (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source), masks with two or three layers, and masks with inner filter pockets,” the memo read.

“Novelty or non-protective masks, masks with ventilation valves, or face shields are not authorized as a substitute for masks. Masks must fit properly (i.e., snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face).”

The order from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is in line with Executive Order 13991, “Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing,” which was signed on Jan. 20 and it rescinds Secretary of Defense Memorandum, “Department of Defense Guidance on Cloth Face Coverings,” from April 5, 2020.

“COVID-19 is one of the deadliest threats our nation has ever faced,” Austin said in the memo. “As we have done throughout our history, the military will rise to this challenge. 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.”

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