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Incirlik members instructed to mask up for COVID-19

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Melissa Lozada, 39th Medical Support Squadron resource management office non-commissioned officer in charge, dons a protective mask prior to screening visitors at the 39th Medical Group, March 20, 2020, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Military and civilian officials at the 39th Air Base Wing are taking steps to curb the potential spread of the Coronavirus at Incirlik. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Magbanua)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Melissa Lozada, 39th Medical Support Squadron resource management office non-commissioned officer in charge, dons a protective mask prior to screening visitors at the 39th Medical Group, March 20, 2020, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Military and civilian officials at the 39th Air Base Wing are taking steps to curb the potential spread of the Coronavirus at Incirlik. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Magbanua)

The Department of Defense released a memorandum on April 5, 2020, instructing personnel to wear face masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All individuals on DOD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers—this does not include in a service member's or service family member's personal residence on a military installation. (Courtesy Graphic)

Air Force COVID-19 Face Mask Guidance Infographic. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Rosario "Charo" Gutierrez)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. personnel stationed here are now expected to wear cloth face coverings following a directive from the Department of Defense which was released April 5.

The order, which was published as a memorandum, clarified that this rule applies when a six-foot distance between individuals cannot be maintained.

“Effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DOD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers (this does not include in a service member's or service family member's personal residence on a military installation),” the memorandum stated. “This includes all military personnel, DOD civilian employees, family members, DOD contractors, (and) all other individuals on DOD property, installations and facilities.”

The directive also highly encouraged DOD members to follow the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines on the use of face coverings and other protective measures. Additionally, each military department published their own guidance concerning this new order within their respective branches.

Col. Randy Oakland, 39th Air Base Wing commander, issued written guidance to the wing in support of this new directive.

“Where face coverings are required, they will cover the nose and mouth area,” it reads. “Personnel are encouraged to self-procure face coverings from clean household or common materials, such as t-shirts. If issued, face coverings will not be altered beyond required adjustments for personalized fit.

According to the wing commander’s guidance, face coverings will be worn in all shopping and customer-service facilities, including dining facilities, Commissary, Base Exchange, food court, shoppette and other facilities or work centers as required.

Oakland clarified that military members may only wear self-procured face coverings in the following colors with no text or additional markings: black, brown, coyote brown, tan, sage, olive green and OCP or ABU pattern. Airmen may work with their unit leadership for masks if they’re unable to procure them.

For guidance on how to construct face coverings, members are encourage to visit the CDC website at this link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.