Guidance for Department of Defense Civilians

Current as of June 3, 2020


The Department of Defense is committed to evaluating the threat from COVID-19 and its impact on the nation’s security. The pandemic still presents risks, but conditions are improving. Most of the United States is reopening in phases using White House Guidelines for Opening Up America Again.

The DOD has updated its COVID-19 travel restriction policy.

The department is now basing decisions on local conditions by place. This replaces previous broad travel restrictions.

Based on improving conditions, the DOD is making updates. It has changed its approach to travel restrictions. This applies to service members, DOD civilian personnel on government-funded travel, and their families. The department is now reviewing local conditions by place. That dictates when to lift restrictions. This replaces previous broad restrictions until further notice.

The DOD will continue to assess its installations, facilities and locations to protect its people. They are its top priority. Conditions vary greatly, so contact local installations for updates.

Civilian community conditions also vary greatly. Know your local COVID-19 guidelines. Your state health department has details.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises everyone to continue to:

  • practice social distancing and good hygiene
  • minimize nonessential travel
  • use facial coverings in public, especially on mass transit

If you are vulnerable, the CDC encourages you to shelter in place. And if you feel sick, stay at home and call your medical provider.

New COVID-19 requirements for civilians who are deploying

As personnel start to resume movement, the DOD has new force health-protection requirements. They help minimize risk and ensure force health. They apply to DOD civilians who deploy or redeploy inside and outside the nation. They are in accordance with DODI 6490.03. It calls for screening for COVID-19 exposure and symptoms and testing if available and appropriate. It calls for restriction of movement if indicated.

The DOD also strongly suggests civilian employees undergo a 14-day restriction of movement before deploying. See Force Health Protection Guidance (Supplement 9) for more details.

Wearing cloth face coverings

Military personnel, families and supporting civilian members serve as role models during extremely challenging times. One way you can do this now is to take steps to protect yourself and others whenever you need to go out. This includes following CDC guidance for wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing may be hard to maintain. This can slow the spread of the virus and help people who may unknowingly have it from transmitting it to others.

  • Create your own cloth face coverings using common household items such as T-shirts, scarves and bandanas. Making and using these coverings helps protect public health while reserving critical supplies such as surgical masks and N-95 respirators for medical first responders, as current CDC guidance recommends.
  • Do not place cloth face coverings on children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help.
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing your face covering. Wash your hands as soon as you finish.
  • Wear your face covering whenever you are on DOD property, installations (except personal residences) and facilities when 6 feet of social distance isn't possible in public areas or work centers.

Changes at your workplace

As businesses reopen, it’s important to follow CDC safety guidelines at work, as well as in public. Keeping a safe distance from others and wearing a face covering is important to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Your supervisor may ask you to continue to:

Adaptive equipment availability

If you need to work from home, you may be eligible to receive adaptive equipment (ergonomic keyboards, lumbar support devices, screen magnification software, etc.) to help you perform your job. The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program will:

  • Provide equipment for identified needs at no cost to the agency
  • In many instances, ship equipment directly to your home
  • Conduct your needs assessment via telephone or email
  • Extend medical documentation deadlines

If you have limitations due to hearing or vision loss, memory loss, arthritis or carpal tunnel, visit the CAP website for more information.

When you must stay at home

There may be times when staying home is in the best interest of your coworkers and the community.

  • You may receive Weather and Safety leave if public health authorities order you to self-quarantine.
  • You may request telework if you have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19 and want to self-quarantine. You may also request annual leave, advanced annual leave, other paid time off or leave without pay.
  • You may request telework if you need to care for a family member who is not sick, but who is in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19. You must track your hours and use paid or unpaid leave for time spent on caregiving.

Working when school or day care closes

If your child’s day care or school has shut down because of COVID-19 and you don’t have alternative child care, check with your supervisor about the following options:

  • Continue teleworking while your children are home. You must track your hours and use paid or unpaid leave for time spent on caregiving.
  • Use annual leave or other paid time off, such as accrued compensatory time or credit hours.
  • Work an alternative schedule, such as compressed hours or flexible workdays or hours.

If you or a family member become sick

  • Speak with your supervisor if you or a family member becomes sick and you run out of sick leave. You may receive an advance of up to 30 days of sick leave for yourself, and up to 13 days of sick leave to care for a family member who is ill.
  • If you become ill and need emergency care while working overseas, your command may prepay the cost of your care.
  • If your illness is work-related, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Healthy habits at work and home

We all have a role in keeping ourselves, our coworkers and others healthy and safe.

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
  • Wear a face covering in public, especially when using mass transit.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid large gatherings.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Call your doctor if you have symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces you regularly touch — counters, desktops, door handles, coffee pots, keyboards.

We will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves and additional guidance for civilian employees develops. You can find this guidance at Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service Emergency Preparedness.

Understanding of COVID-19 continues to change, so continue to check our Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page for updates.

Want to find the phone number for your installation’s housing office or Military and Family Support Center? Find those and more on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, an online information directory for military installations worldwide. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms. For Department of Defense updates for the military community: