Washington, Feb 5 : The Pentagon has made wearing of masks mandatory for all its personnel at all times while on duty at the premises of the US Department of Defence (DOD) and also when working anywhere outside their residences in an effort to curb Covid-19 spread, according to an official memo.
The memo issued to the DOD personnel by Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday, said: “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.
“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.”
According to Austin’s memo, locations where masks must be worn include any common areas or shared workspaces — open floorplan office spaces, cubicle embankments, and conference rooms — as well as in outdoor shared spaces.
“Covid-19 is one of the deadliest threats our Nation has ever faced. 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,” the memo added.
The Pentagon memo follows President Joe Biden’s recent executive order, signed on his first day in office, that mandates face coverings while on federal property, The Hill news website reported.
According to the Pentagon, a total of 225,753 coronavirus cases have been reported among the Department personnel, which also includes their family members and contractors.
Of the 225,753 cases, 50,594 were reported in the Army, 17,820 in the Marine Corps, 30,005 in the Navy, 25,944 in the Air Force, 18,034 in the National Guard and 975 across DOD Agencies.
The Department has also reported 252 fatalities due to the disease.