Editor’s Note: This release was edited by Larry Lapka
SecDef Memorandum: Masks Required In DoD Locations In Accordance With CDC Guidelines • WASHINGTON
For months, military exchanges and commissaries have required both patrons and employees to wear masks while in these stores, and a recent memorandum sent out to senior Pentagon leadership, commanders of combatant commands, and Department of Defense (DoD) agency and field activity directors reinforced that requirement throughout the Defense Department.
A Feb. 4 memorandum from Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III directs all individuals on military installations and all individuals performing official duties on behalf of the Department to wear masks in accordance with the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
“We must defeat the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and defend the force against COVID-19, while protecting our Nation. … Effective immediately, 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, will wear masks in accordance with the most current CDC guidelines,” Austin stated.
“Individuals must wear masks continuously 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 CDC guidelines and instructions from commanders and supervisors; 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.”
There are also “categorical case-by-case exceptions” to the mask-wearing requirement for service members and their families, including mask wearing by children, as long as CDC guidelines are followed.
Military resale was perhaps among the first DoD entities to require that face coverings be used in its environs as a major point of its plan for a “safe, secure and sanitized environment” for both patrons and employees.
“Be assured, at all of our commissary locations worldwide, we are following CDC and DoD guidance, specifically regarding sanitary measures, social distancing and wearing masks,” said Bill Moore, Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) director and chief executive officer (CEO). “These measures are particularly important to keep our employees and customers healthy as case numbers climb.”
For months, all of the military exchanges — including the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES); the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM); the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX); and the Coast Guard Exchange (CGX) — have also required face masks be worn for both shoppers and employees.
Since the Veterans Canteen Service (VCS) handles most of its operations in a hospital environment, masking has been a requirement virtually since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to guidance on the CDC website (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html), the organization “recommends that people wear masks in public settings, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people.”
Effective Feb. 2, “masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.”
“COVID-19 is one of the deadliest threats our Nation has ever faced,” Austin continued. “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.”
Patrons wearing masks shop the Vicenza, Italy, Commissary. Military resale has been among the earliest DoD components to require that both shoppers and employees wear face coverings while in their stores.