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Fort Benning implements mask mandate

Fort Benning now joins the ranks of cities and employers who are mandating masks.
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 7:00 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Mask mandates across the country are increasing, as coronavirus case numbers and hospitalizations continue to climb. Fort Benning now joins the ranks of cities and employers who are mandating masks.

Fort Benning leadership was unable to meet with News Leader 9 face to face to discuss the change, however, according to Benning officials, they are following guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense.

Officials told News Leader 9, anyone who finds themselves on Fort Benning will have to wear mask indoors and mask up outdoors if they’re unable to social distance. The full statement reads as followed:

“As of 5 p.m. July 30, all Soldiers, DA civilians, family members, contractors, visitors and all other individuals on MCoE/Fort Benning property and facilities (to include Camp Frank D. Merrill and Camp James E. Rudder) will wear DOD compliant face coverings when indoors and when they cannot maintain six (6) feet of social distance in outdoor areas (not including personal residences on the installation).

Face masks are required for all attendees at all times at open graduations and Turning Blue ceremonies. Units will ensure masks are worn and will also have extra face masks on-hand for guests who may need one. No graduation or Turning Blue ceremony will be at more than 60% capacity.”

Commander of American Legion Post 35, Lakesha Stringer, in Columbus told News Leader 9, if the guidance is something Fort Benning is mandating, then it’s something people on the installation should adhere to.

“If Fort Benning is giving a mask mandate, then that is what needs to be followed. If they give a mask mandate, there’s a reason for it. They don’t necessarily have to give us the reason but they know things that we may not know, so it’s up to us to follow that,” said Stringer.

Gene Gilstar is a retired service member. He told News Leader 9 he doesn’t agree with the news of Fort Benning’s Mask Mandate.

“It’s too extensive, it’s not necessary to mask up that much. Outdoors it shouldn’t be necessary at all,” said Gilstar.

Eva Felix is a military spouse. She told News Leader 9 her husband is a soldier on Fort Benning. She said she doesn’t necessarily agree with the mask mandate but understands the reasoning behind it.

“So it’s actually quite frustrating because they go back and forth on the thought of it. I think it’s an enormously annoying thing, because if you’re going to mandate it you should have done it to begin with but I understand they’re just trying to be cautious,” said Felix.

Jack Ottomanelli, an Army second lieutenant, told News Leader 9 he agrees with the decision from Fort Benning.

“I think because of the latest spike in COVID cases. I think they’re just taking precautions. Overall I would say it’s pretty good idea,” said Ottamanelli.

The statement also goes on to say, graduations and ceremonies will have no more than 60 percent capacity.

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