After coming into the Pentagon with battling COVID-19 as his foremost objective, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Thursday issued sweeping orders mandating that U.S. military personnel will wear protective masks in almost every situation.
The Feb. 4, 2021 memorandum says personnel must wear masks continuously on U.S. military installations except when alone in an office with a closed door, for “brief periods” while eating or drinking, when the mask must be lowered for security identification purposes, and as needed to make reasonable accommodations to someone with a disability.
“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,” Mr. Austin said in his memo.
The order also covers U.S. military personnel working in foreign countries. The authority to grant exceptions to the protective mask order is set at the O-7 (one-star general or rear admiral) level or by a member of the Senior Executive Service.
“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,” Mr. Austin wrote.