Defense Department directs all service members to wear masks again

U.S. soldiers take the oath of allegiance wearing masks.
U.S. soldiers take the oath of allegiance wearing masks. Photo credit John Moore/Getty Images

The Department of Defense outlined updated guidelines requiring service members and other employees to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status.

The new public health guidance memo was addressed to senior Pentagon leadership, as first reported by USNI News.

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Beginning today, the department requires all military service members in areas with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission to wear masks indoors at work. The same applies to federal employees, contractors, and visitors at DOD facilities, the letter says.

"In areas of substantial or high community transmission, DOD requires all service members, federal employees, onsite contractor employees and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask in an indoor setting in installations and other facilities owned, leased or otherwise controlled by DOD," the memorandum read.

The department will also require unvaccinated employees to continue social distancing.

The agency said it would post signs at its locations and upload additional information to its websites for clarification. In addition, the department said it's reviewing all application health protection guidelines to ensure compliance with the latest Centers for Disease Control instructions.