Marine Corps recruiting stations are not completely shuttering services but recruiters are transitioning to digital and phone communications to help limit face-to-face visits and stem the spread of COVID-19, the Marine Corps announced Wednesday.

The change is a near 180-degree reversal over the last 24 hours. As of Tuesday, Marine Corps recruiting stations were still open and conducting in-person visits, despite the Army having shuttered their recruiting stations.

The Corps has been criticized by recruiters and other Marines for keeping the doors open to recruiting stations despite a number state governors ordering the closure of non-essential businesses across states with high numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

“The preservation of our recruiting force, applicants, poolees, and their families is the highest priority for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command during this national emergency,” Maj. Gen. James W. Bierman, the commanding general of MCRC, said in a news release.

“With that in mind, we will immediately transition to prospecting exclusively via digital and telephonic means, and no longer initiate in-person interviews. We remain committed to recruiting the highly-qualified men and women our Nation needs for its Marine Corps," Bierman said in the release.

Local Marine recruiting stations are not completely closing their offices, MCRC detailed in a news release that local stations will continue to be staffed but at “reduced manpower levels commensurate with social distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the release reads.

Travel for Marines conducting recruiting business will also be restricted to “mission-essential” requirements and only two Marines will be authorized to be in any one vehicle at a time, MCRC detailed Wednesday.

MCRC said that any member of the recruiting staff with family members in the “high risk category” for COVID-19 will work remotely from home.

“Because recruiting is an activity of vital importance to our Nation and Corps, we will continue our efforts to ship young men and women to our Recruit Depots and Officer Candidate School as conditions permit,” Bierman said in the release. “At the same time, it is recognized this imperative is not the only consideration. Our efforts will prioritize protecting our Marines and families.”

MCRC noted in its press release that leaders still have the authority to assess risks particular to their recruiting station and make decisions to “curtail or modify activities.”

Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.

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