If you're planning on shopping on base anytime soon, you'd better have a face cover at the ready.
Both the Defense Commissary Activity and Navy Exchange (NEX) have announced that all patrons must be wearing some form of face covering before they will be granted entry into any facility. The stores will not provide masks or face coverings to customers.
The new face covering order applies to visitors and employees at all NEX and commissary outlets, including mini-marts, gas stations and Navy Lodges.
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) has said they expect shoppers to adhere to DoD and installation requirements regarding face coverings and has radio announcements and in-store signing to remind its guests of physical distancing standards and face mask guidance.
The new regulation takes effect April 10 and won't supersede any stricter local regulations that base commanders may have issued. The new rules fall in line with the April 5 Defense Department guidance mandating, "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."
To cut back on the number of shoppers in its stores, the Navy Exchange has created the "NEX Quarantine Support Program," which is rapidly rolling out to locations worldwide. This program allows service members to submit an order and pay for their merchandise online for delivery or curbside pickup. Customers can purchase a variety of items from the NEX, including food, non-alcoholic beverages, electronics, personal hygiene, health and comfort items, sports nutrition and cleaning supplies. Due to social distancing guidelines, all orders are delivered or picked up without coming into close contact with the associate or customer.
Commissaries have also started a new online ordering and pickup program called Click2Go. Currently, it is available only at Fort Belvoir, Fort Eustis, Naval Air Station Oceana and Marine Corps Base Quantico, all in Virginia; and McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey.
All commissaries have taken precautions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus in their stores. These include:
- Installing clear, acrylic sneeze shields in all regular checkout lanes to add extra protection for customers and cashiers.
- Wiping down checkout areas, product display cases, restrooms and shopping carts with disinfectant, and practicing routine hand washing and other basic sanitation measures to reduce transmission risk.
- Providing hand sanitizer at each register.
- Encouraging employees to closely monitor their health, and stay home if they, or someone in their household, are sick.
- Working with their installations to implement procedures regarding social distancing.
- Implementing a "no visitors" policy to reduce the number of people in the stores.
- Suspending early bird hours to allow stores more time to clean and restock.
- Suspending the use of reusable bags to help reduce the risk of virus exposure.
- Banning cashiers from handling patron ID cards. Instead, customers will be asked to scan their own ID or cashiers can use the handheld scanner, if available.
- Encouraging the use of credit or debit transactions to limit the use of cash and coins.
- Working closely with the public health assets on the installation to monitor transmission risk related to staff and patrons.
- Temporarily suspending the requirement to sign credit card receipts to prevent multi-patron handling of the credit card reader pen.
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