WASHINGTON - Since April 5, the Navy has required the wearing of cloth face coverings for all military, Navy civilian and contractors as well as family members while on DoD property, installations and facilities when maintaining proper social distancing between people isn’t possible.
Those rules, laid out in NAVADMIN message 100/20, remain in effect. Now, the Navy’s top uniformed personnel official, Vice Adm. John B. Nowell has issued further guidance in NAVADMIN 194/20 on face coverings which can be worn in uniform and how to get them.
“Initial face covering guidance facilitated immediate wear and availability of face coverings as one of several COVID-19 protective measures,” Nowell wrote. “Procurement, design and wear guidance was less defined pending the availability of more durable and conservative designed government procured face coverings.”
This initial flexibility was by necessity, Nowell said, to quickly put personal protective equipment (PPE) in the hands of Sailors and provided unit commanders flexibility in procuring face coverings through “multiple sources, designs, colors and durability,” allowing them to “rapidly field face coverings to their personnel.”
Since design type and configuration have been narrowed for wear with the uniform, here’s what you need to know about what can be worn and how to get them.
When worn in a Navy uniform, face coverings must still meet the standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and can be purchased by individuals or issued by commands.
Functionally, they must be made of at least two layers of cloth fabric and fit snugly and comfortably, covering the chin and extending over the bridge of the nose. They must not interfere with wearing eyeglasses or cause them to fog. Single-layer face covering already available through Defense Logistics Agency and Navy Exchange Service Command are acceptable and meet standards.
Fastening devices must be neutral in color and made of elastic, cord, string and loop. They must tie around the back of the ears or back of the head. It’s ok to use face coverings with barrel lock devices but only in areas where safety and Foreign Object Debris restrictions aren’t an issue.
Face coverings worn in uniform must overall be conservative in appearance, non-offensive and exhibit nothing that will bring discredit upon the wearer or the Navy.
Only face coverings made of plain neutral colors -- specifically black, brown, tan, white, grey, green, blue can be worn. No lettering/wording, logos, symbols, prints or patterns are authorized.
The only exception is the option to wear coverings with camouflage patterns that match the Navy’s existing camouflage pattern uniforms.
Commands have the option of buying face coverings through Defense Logistics Agency or through open purchase if those available through the supply system “do not meet mission requirements,” Nowell wrote. Purchase through the Navy Exchange is also available.
For further details, see NAVADMIN 194/20 which contains stock numbers for face coverings in all seven authorized colors. In addition, the message contains contact information for both uniform and supply points of contact in this issue.
The latest DoD policies can be found at: https://www.defense.gov/explore/spotlight/coronavirus.