- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2020

Navy officials are relaxing grooming standards for sailors to combat the spread of the coronavirus through the ranks, the service announced late Wednesday.

In its administrative message to personnel, the Navy said the new rules will apply only to hair. Individual commanding officers will make the final decisions on whether to allow the men and women under their command to grow out their hair beyond the usual length.

“Relaxed hair length grooming standards will only apply to the area of the scalp,” the Navy said. “Policy guidance regarding sideburns, hairstyles and shaving requirements remain in effect. COs may allow for additional hair length and bulk on the sides, top and back of the head, but at no time will relaxed grooming interfere with the proper wearing of Navy headgear and proper use of protective personal equipment (helmets, masks, hoods, etc.). Good judgement of leaders at all levels of the chain of command is required to ensure all possible COVID-19 force health protection precautions are being taken.”

Regular Navy guidelines require hairstyles for men to be no longer than four inches and to “not touch the ears, collar, extend below eyebrows when headgear is removed, show under front edge of headgear, or interfere with properly wearing military headgear,” Navy guidelines read.

The rules for women are more complex, and the Navy policy states that “appropriateness of a hairstyle shall be evaluated by its appearance when headgear is worn.”

Part of the reason for the relaxed standards stems from slowdowns at Navy barber and beauty shops due to the coronavirus. While shops are remaining open, they’re limiting the number of customers inside at any one time.

Navy officials also have mandated that all tools that touch customers — such as scissors, combs or brushes — must be thoroughly cleaned between each use.

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