Marine Corps Suspends PFT for Remainder of 2020

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Marines with Headquarters Battalion conduct crunches during their Physical Fitness Test.
Marines with Headquarters Battalion conduct crunches during their Physical Fitness Test at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, March 14, 2017. (U.S. Marne Corps/ Lance Cpl. Jesus Sepulveda Torre)

Marines who haven't taken their physical fitness test yet this season will be able to skip it, the service's top general announced Tuesday.

Commandant Gen. David Berger told Marines via tweet that the physical fitness test calendar period, which runs through June 30, is canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Our fitness to fight remains a priority, and I expect each of us to continue to maintain our fighting condition," Berger said. More details on how the change will affect Marines will be released in an upcoming force-wide message, he added.

Marines must complete three events on their PFT, and at least one makes it difficult to maintain social distancing. While pull-ups or push-ups and the run or rowing portions of the test can be completed individually, Marines hold one another's legs down for the abdominal crunch section.

Related: Defense Secretary to Marines: Rethink Haircut Rules During Pandemic

Berger's announcement marks a change from his previous comments about allowing commanders to determine what standards should be waived during the pandemic. More than 250 Marines have tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, as of Tuesday.

The Marine Corps has faced tough questions -- including from the defense secretary -- about whether the service is doing enough to prevent the spread of the disease. Barber shops and gyms remain open on some installations, raising questions about whether Marines are facing unnecessary risk to maintain grooming and other standards.

When asked about a video showing a long line of Marines not wearing masks or standing six feet apart as they waited to get into a California barbershop, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Berger would be getting a phone call from Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley.

"What is going on? What don't you guys understand?" Esper said. "If you need to, suspend haircuts for whatever period of time."

Some of the other services have relaxed grooming standards, canceled promotion boards and postponed fitness tests during the coronavirus crisis.

It's not immediately clear how the change will play into Marines' promotions, which typically factor their fitness test scores. Many Marines have likely already completed the test requirement since PFT season started Jan. 1.

Officials did not immediately respond to questions about whether scores for those Marines who completed the test will still be considered or if they'll be waived for everyone.

The Marine Corps' PFT season is followed immediately by a six-month period of combat fitness tests. It remains to be seen whether that test, which requires Marines to drag and carry a comrade, will also be canceled.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Read More: Marine Corps: It's Up to Unit Commanders to Relax Grooming Rules, Cut Training

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