Troops should carry vaccination proof when going maskless on bases in S. Korea
By JOSEPH DITZLER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 15, 2021
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U.S. Forces Korea late Friday dropped the mask mandate for fully vaccinated people at all U.S. military facilities in South Korea, aligning the command with new guidance from the Pentagon and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Effective immediately, an announcement from USFK states, people who are at least two weeks beyond their final dose of a vaccine approved by either the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the Korea Disease Control Agency are no longer required to wear a mask indoors or outdoors on USFK installations.
“Personnel who are not fully vaccinated will continue to follow all applicable USFK mask wear guidance,” the announcement said.
The command recommends that vaccinated individuals carry their vaccination cards or equivalent documentation for the purpose of contact tracing.
Camp Humphreys, the headquarters south of Seoul of USFK, was more blunt on its Facebook page Saturday: “The onus is on the individual to prove that they have been fully vaccinated and are at least two weeks beyond their final dose of an FDA/KDCA authorized vaccine.”
Fully vaccinated personnel are not required to wear masks on the installation, according to the post. “You must be able to demonstrate that ability. CARRY YOUR CARD.”
Masks are still mandatory at health care facilities, such as the Brian D. Allgood Community Hospital at Humphreys. Off-base, people affiliated with USFK must abide by South Korean measures that include wearing a protective mask, according to USFK.
“Unless you can demonstrate that you are fully vaccinated, mask wear on USFK installations is STILL mandatory,” the announcement said.
The Pentagon on Thursday dropped its mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals along the guidelines published the same day by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that fully vaccinated individuals need not wear masks or socially distance in most situations, unless required by law or businesses.
U.S. military personnel, DOD civilians employees and family members in Japan are still required to wear masks on U.S. installations, commanders reminded their people on Saturday.
Area commanders typically have had the final say on changes to public health measures on U.S. military facilities during the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. military authorities in Japan repeated their message Friday that until word is passed, masks are still required on U.S. bases in Japan.