Face masks mandatory in most public places

In accordance with new Department of Defense and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden has implemented the mandatory wear of masks or face coverings in several areas where physical distancing is more difficult — such as essential customer service points. This is mandatory at The Exchange, the Commissary, the shoppettes on both Clay and Hainerberg, the dining facility, the shuttle buses, the Postal Service Center and any location where there is one-on-one customer service.

Soldiers, family members, civilian employees and contractors are also strongly encouraged to follow CDC guidelines on the use of cloth face coverings in other public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

Masks will be provided by the garrison for employees who work in those areas. Community members who do not have masks are encouraged to fashion masks out of materials according to CDC guidelines.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children younger than 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance. The garrison will not enforce the face mask policy for children under age 10.

According to the CDC, “a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (asymptomatic) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g.,grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

Many community members have expressed interest in volunteering to make homemade masks for others. The Red Cross has established a mask donation drop box at Building 1201 on Clay Kaserne just inside the first floor door off of King Avenue. These masks will be given to the garrison for distribution at locations with the greatest need. Please do not go to the Red Cross to ask for hand-sewn masks at this time. As more masks are made available, more information will be shared on how they will be distributed.

According to Army guidance, Soldiers are authorized to wear the neck gaiter and other cloth items, such as bandanas and scarves, as face coverings. Soldiers should not, however, fashion face coverings from Army Combat Uniforms or other materials that have been chemically-treated. Personal protective equipment, such as N95 respirators or surgical masks, must be reserved for use in medical settings.

Force health protection is the Army’s top priority. Army senior leaders are urging everyone to adhere to the latest CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus, including practicing rigorous protocols for personal hygiene, staying home when sick and implementing social distancing techniques.

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