US military drops mask requirements at the Pentagon

WASHINGTON: The US military said on Wednesday (Mar 2) it is no longer requiring masks indoors at the Pentagon after new COVID-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 20,000 military and civilian employees work at the Pentagon. The White House told federal agencies late on Monday they can drop rules requiring employees and visitors to wear masks in federal buildings in much of the country, according to a document first reported by Reuters.

The White House-led Safer Federal Workforce Task Force said Monday in new guidance that the mask requirement could be ended by federal facilities in counties with low or medium COVID-19 community levels, regardless of vaccination status. About 70 per cent of US counties covering 72 per cent of the US population are listed as having low or medium levels.

The White House directed agencies to revise federal employee masking and testing rules no later than Friday. The guidance covers about 3.5 million employees at federal agencies.

In counties with low community levels, federal agencies also do not need to regularly screen unvaccinated employees for COVID-19, the guidance says.

The District of Columbia, which is home to the headquarters of most federal agencies, as well as nearby suburbs of Virginia and Maryland, which are home to the Pentagon, Central Intelligence Agency and many federal public health and other agencies, are all listed as having low COVID-19 community levels.

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The White House on Tuesday lifted the requirement that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks on the White House campus, but it added that testing, providing vaccination information, and other COVID-19 protocols remain in place.

The move comes after the CDC on Friday dramatically eased its COVID-19 guidelines for masks, including in schools, a move that means almost 72 per cent of the population reside in communities where indoor face coverings are no longer recommended.

Artmotion Asia

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