New DoD Health Guidance Relaxes Mask Requirements

New DoD Health Guidance Relaxes Mask Requirements

Soldiers saluting
Photo by: U.S. Army/Sgt. Reva Catholic

Fully vaccinated service members and civilian employees no longer need to mask up on military installations, but all personnel are still encouraged to maintain social distancing and other hygiene measures, according to the latest guidance from the Pentagon.

Local commanders and supervisors can establish stricter guidelines for wearing masks and may require them as necessary to ensure a safe workplace, respect host nation or local guidelines or ensure mission accomplishment, according to a June memo.

And, following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask on public transportation and in places such as airports, correctional facilities and health care facilities, including DoD medical, dental and veterinary treatment facilities.

The update from DoD, in a memo signed by Virginia Penrod, acting assistant defense secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, comes as the military continues to work on vaccinating the force.

As of June 28, DoD has administered more than 4.1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to its personnel. In the Army, more than 313,400 soldiers are fully vaccinated, and almost 180,000 are partially vaccinated, according to DoD data.

Commanders are authorized to verify a service member’s vaccination status, and unmasked, fully vaccinated service members should be prepared to show proof of vaccination, according to the memo.

When it comes to civilian employees, supervisors may not inquire about or verify their vaccination status, according to the memo. An unmasked civilian employee may, however, be asked to confirm their vaccination status only if the supervisor has a reasonable basis to believe the employee has not been fully vaccinated, based on reliable evidence such as firsthand knowledge of voluntary employee statements, the memo states.

The memo also calls on all personnel to consistently practice health and safety measures such as physical distancing of 6 feet or more, frequent handwashing or use of hand sanitizer, properly covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when sick.

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