WASHINGTON (WAVY) — In response to rising COVID-19 case numbers, employees will now be required to wear face masks while indoors at military installations and other facilities controlled by the Department of Defense.
Masks will be required regardless of vaccination status, according to the DoD. The mandate covers service members, federal employees, onsite contractor employees, and visitors.
The mandate is for areas that are at high or substantial risk for transmission. That includes Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY), and other area military installations.
Many localities in the region are in the high or substantial risk categories for COVID-19 transmission.
Virginia reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time since April on Wednesday, a day after the Centers for Disease Control recommended mask wearing even for vaccinated people in areas with high community virus spread.
The latest CDC dashboard data shows Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News and Chesapeake all have high levels of community transmission. Hampton and Norfolk are at substantial risk. Williamsburg is in the moderate risk category.
JBLE posted on Facebook on Wednesday night saying the change was effective immediately. On Friday, the base posted another update saying indoor gatherings will not exceed 75% capacity of the space or 100 people, whichever is less. People will also need to social distance.
On Monday, Norfolk Naval Shipyard also posted on social media updating their mask policy which also includes NNSY employees at Naval Station Norfolk.
NNSY employees assigned to offsite ( e.g. Naval Foundry and Propeller Center—Philadelphia, Nuclear Power Training Unit – Ballston Spa, Nuclear Regional Maintenance Department—Kings Bay, and Nuclear Power Training Unit—Charleston) are asked to follow local requirements.
NNSY personnel traveling to offsite locations are asked to follow the policies and procedures set by leadership at that destination.
The new restriction comes less than two weeks after military officials announced that U.S. Navy installations would tighten COVID-19 restrictions in Hampton Roads. Rising coronavirus case levels prompted officials to change restrictions to HPCON Bravo.
This shift lowered the allowable workplace occupancy from “less than 100%” to “less than 50%.”