Marines who go maskless on military installations must be prepared to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination at any time ― while those found to have lied about their vaccination status for whatever reason may face discipline, according to a recently released Marine Corps message.
“Service members and civilian employees who misrepresent their vaccination status may be subject to appropriate adverse administrative or punitive actions,” the MARADMIN, released Friday, reads.
The MARADMIN provides clarification to the Department of Defense mask policy released in early May, which allows service members who are fully vaccinated to ditch the mask in almost every circumstance.
Marines who are not fully vaccinated must wear their mask “continuously” on military installations unless they are alone, eating, drinking, when the mask is required to be lowered for identification, when it is necessary to accommodate a disability or while conducting physical training.
The Marine Corps' rate has increased since March, though it's still well behind the other services.
Under the Marine Corps policy, unmasked Marines must be prepared at any time to provide a vaccination card or other health records to prove they are fully vaccinated and authorized to go without a mask.
“Supervisors may not inquire about or verify the vaccination status of civilian employees unless there is a reasonable basis to believe the unmasked employee has not been fully vaccinated, based on reliable evidence such as firsthand knowledge of voluntary employee statements,” the MARADMIN said.
As of June 30, the Marine Corps was by far the least vaccinated branch in the military, with only 58 percent of Marines vaccinated for COVID-19. That’s far behind the Navy, which leads the Defense Department with a vaccination rate of 77 percent.
Friday’s MARADMIN sets the minimum mask policy for the entire Marine Corps, though individual commanders are allowed to enforce a “more restrictive mask policy,” according to the MARADMIN.
Marines stationed or deployed overseas must also follow the local laws regarding mask wearing if it is more restrictive than the MARADMIN.
The “current Marine Corps policy on the use of masks is limited to Department of Defense facilities,” Capt. Andrew Wood, Headquarters Marine Corps spokesman, told Marine Corps Times in an email.