Continuing efforts to reduce the COVID-19 risk for the entire community, the wearing of face coverings will be mandatory at all Fort Meade installation facilities beginning Friday.“We are doing great as a community at protecting ourselves,” Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Michael E. Behnkendorf said. “This will help even more.”Last week, Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper issued guidance for the mandatory requirement of wearing face masks.Behnkendorf explained that Fort Meade is instituting the temporary policy at high-occupancy facilities.“We are requiring all patrons of all high-occupancy facilities to wear a mask or face covering, or they may be denied access,” he said.“This mandate is for all employees and patrons. If your child can wear a face covering, please protect them and the other people around them in that way.”Behnkendorf outlined specifics for wearing a face mask on post.“The face coverings must cover the nose and mouth while in and around these facilities,” he said. “Face coverings may include masks like surgical masks, or a hasty solution [fashioned out of a bandana, T-shirt, neck gaiter or equivalent].”Strictly EnforcedCloth face coverings will be strictly enforced at the following facilities:• Exchange• Commissary (The Defense Commissary Agency instituted this requirement on Monday.)• Both AAFES Express Shoppettes• Freedom Inn Dining Facility• Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center• CAC/Uniformed Services ID Card Section, 2234 Huber Road• U.S. Post Office, Fort Meade branch“DoD supports this mission of mitigating the spread of COVID-19, consistent with the department’s priorities to protect our people, safeguard our national security capabilities, and support the government’s whole-of-nation response,” Esper said.This safety precaution is for the protection of service members, families, civilians and contractors.“All individuals on DoD property, installations and facilities will wear cloth face-coverings when they cannot maintain 6 feet of social distance in public areas or work centers,” Esper said.If you do not have access to a surgical mask, you can use any fabric like a bandana, T-shirt, jeans or any other cloth material.DoD will continue to implement protective measures to alleviate the spread of COVID-19, the Defense Secretary added.“Again, we are doing well as a community,” Behnkendorf said. “We just have to be mindful and supportive of each other and stay the course.”This story originally ran in the April 16, 2020 Ft. Meade Sound Off - Community Newsletter.