2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

 Cloth Face Coverings - Guidance for Community Settings

Last Updated: March 01, 2021
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Effective immediately, 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 guidance applies to all service members, DOD civilians, contractors, families (apart from residences on installations) and all other individuals on DOD property.

A cloth face covering shall extend above the nose without interfering with eyewear, and below the chin to cover the mouth and nostrils completely. It shall fit snugly but comfortably against the sides of the face and be secured (e.g., by being tied in place or with ear-loops). Cloth face coverings shall be laundered regularly to maintain good hygiene. The Military Departments will issue guidance on uniform wear for Service members. Pending that guidance, Service members will wear cloth face coverings in neutral colors.

DOD Guidance on the Use of Cloth Face CoveringsExternal Link

Force Health Protection Guidance - Supplement 7External Link


Important Information about Your Face Covering - Downloadable Handout

Military issue neck gaiters are safe to use as a face covering. 

The material matters more than the style. A tightly woven or multi-layer fabric works best. Military-issue neck gaiters perform as well as commercial cotton face coverings and multiple layers of t-shirt material.

Army Combat Uniform (ACU) material is NOT recommended for use as a face covering because of the type of fabric used and the different treatments, like insect repellent and flame retardant, applied to the fabric.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Key Recommendations

1. CDC recommendsExternal Link 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.

2. The cloth face coverings recommended by CDC are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

CDC Syndicated Content Below


The Military Health System Nurse Advice Line is available 24/7 by phone, web chat, and video chat. Call 1-800-874-2273 option #1 or visit https://www.health.mil/I-Am-A/Media/Media-Center/NAL-Day-at-a-glanceExternal Link  for more information.

N-95 respirators are not the same as facemasks and do not provide extra protection for the general public. N-95 respirators are for use by medical personnel who are caring for COVID-19 patients and performing procedures which increase their exposure risk. Users of N-95 respirators must be medically cleared to wear them, fit-tested to ensure proper function, trained on their use, and monitored as part of an occupational health program