Air Force releases guidance on use of cloth face covers Published April 6, 2020 Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) -- To help combat COVID-19, the Air Force has released information that supplements Department of Defense guidance on the use of cloth face coverings, effective immediately. To the extent practical, without significantly impacting mission, all individuals on Department of the Air Force property, installations and facilities are required to wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of physical distance in public areas or work centers. This guidance applies to Total Force military personnel, DoD civilian employees and contractors, family members and all individuals on Department of the Air Force property, installations and facilities, and does not apply within a personal residence on a military installation. Any cloth items worn as face coverings (e.g., neck gaiters, neck warmers, balaclavas, etc.) should be functional, cleaned and maintained in compliance with current Air Force instructions, and should cover the mouth and nose. As safety is the primary concern, commanders will decide where mission safety necessitates deviation from this guidance, for example when the cloth face covering could interfere with other facial gear. Until issued items are fully available, commanders and units may deviate in regard to uniformity while ensuring face coverings worn by uniformed military members are conservative, professional and in keeping with dignity and respect. For civilian employees, use of a cloth face covering is strongly encouraged. Commanders who wish to mandate cloth face covering for civilian employees under this memo must either furnish them or provide a uniform allowance per AFI 36-128, Pay Setting and Allowances, published May 17, 2019. If a commander determines the purchase and issuance of cloth face coverings is necessary for mission requirements, they should consult with legal and comptroller about purchasing and issuing the coverings. N95 and surgical masks should be reserved for health care workers. During this time, security checkpoints may require the lowering of masks to verify identification. ***It is to be noted that the use of a cloth face covering does not prevent the wearer from getting sick or eliminate the need to continue the primary mitigation efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, but may prevent the spread of the virus from the wearer to others. *** For more information on COVID-19 visit https://www.af.mil/News/Coronavirus-disease-2019.