The Department of Defense (DoD) has increased restrictions at the Pentagon as COVID-19 cases climb due to the omicron variant of the virus. The Pentagon remains at Health Protection Condition (HPCON) Bravo Plus, but is implementing additional measures to protect the workforce.

Among the additional measures, supervisors and managers have been instructed to encourage their workforce to maximize telework, where the mission permits, through the end of January.

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“Protecting our workforce while performing our national security mission remains the Secretary of Defense’s number one priority during the COVID-19 pandemic,” a DoD memo says. “Supervisors will continue to provide maximum telework opportunities and flexible scheduling to optimize the workforce while defending our nation, taking care of our people, and ensuring success through teamwork.”

The increased restrictions are being put in place at the same time as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin disclosed on Jan. 2 that he tested positive for COVID-19, and will quarantine at home for a five-day period.  Austin, who is fully vaccinated, said his symptoms were mild.

“Stemming the spread of this virus, safeguarding our workforce and ensuring my own speedy and safe recovery remain my priorities,” he said.

Other safety measures being implemented at the Pentagon include:

  • Official visitors being limited to the minimum required for mission critical meetings;
  • Closing the Pentagon Reservation to unofficial visitors through the end of January 2022;
  • Maintaining Pentagon occupancy rates at less than 40 percent of normal occupancy;
  • Encouraging all DoD personnel and eligible family members to receive a COVID-19 booster shot;
  • Encouraging DoD personnel to use home testing kits upon returning from the Federal holiday period before returning to the workplace; and
  • Ensuring employees monitor for symptoms, and if sick, contact their supervisor and not come into work.

“While the Pentagon Reservation remains at HPCON Bravo +, organizations are expected to maintain occupancy rates at less than 40 percent of normal occupancy, subject to the exceptions approved by my office,” wrote DoD Director of Administration Management Michael Donley. “Effectively immediately, all previously approved exceptions for occupancy limits over 60 percent are now capped at 60 percent, through the end of January 2022, in order to protect the workforce and preserve mission effectiveness.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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