Here Are the Rules for Wearing Face Masks on Military Bases

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Staff Sgt. Alexandra Haytasingh, 944th Security Forces Squadron fire team leader, shops for groceries
Staff Sgt. Alexandra Haytasingh, 944th Security Forces Squadron fire team leader, shops for groceries April 16, 2020, in the commissary at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

You may be aware that many states and foreign nations are relaxing quarantine rules related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but what about military installations?

If you are on a military installation in a state or country where the quarantine has been lifted, do you still have to wear personal protective equipment such as a face covering or maintain stay-at-home rules?

This is one of those times when military rules supersede local civilian rules.

Currently, the military branches require all personnel on base to wear face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of physical distance in public areas or work centers. This applies to all military personnel, Defense Department civilian employees, contractors, family members and other base visitors. The rules do not apply within a personal residence located on a military installation, or to active-duty members off base and off duty.

Military families undergoing a pack-out in conjunction with PCS orders are required to wear face coverings while the movers are present in their residence; this applies to both on-base and off-base housing. Military families living in government housing may be required to wear face coverings while maintenance personnel are present in their homes as well.

All exchanges and commissaries require all patrons to wear face coverings in stores both on and off base. AAFES and Navy Exchange outlets have both cloth and paper masks in stock and on sale at most locations worldwide and online.

All of this means that if you are on duty and don't wear a mask as required, you could face nonjudicial punishment. If your family members are caught on base without masks in a public situation, you may expect to have a discussion with your chain of command regarding their behavior. Also, if you are a visitor to a military base, you won't be let through the main gate unless you have a mask in your possession.

Gate guards may require visitors to remove their masks temporarily to assist in positive identification but, after that, the mask must be put back on for the duration of a base visit.

Active-duty members have received official guidance about coloring and decoration rules for masks, as well as the authorized types of material masks may be made from. However, veterans and their family members visiting a base for medical appointments or other reasons are not faced with the same restrictions.

Base commanders have been given authority to make exceptions to these rules based on local situations and military readiness.

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Coronavirus/COVID-19