My Coast Guard
Commentary | Aug. 6, 2021

Coast Guard updates workplace safety guidance

By MyCG Staff

The Coast Guard is updating its workplace safety guidance. As a result of the increased transmission of COVID-19 and emerging variants, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget Safer Federal Workforce Task Force have issued updated directives to ensure safe workplaces.

These communications have led to the Coast Guard adding and modifying operational requirements, including:

  • Masking requirements in high-transmission areas
  • Masking requirements for unvaccinated personnel
  • Visitor screening
  • Unofficial travel for unvaccinated personnel
  • Contractor foreign travel
  • Large gatherings hosted by the Coast Guard

These updated requirements are consistent with the latest guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Masking and social distancing

  • In areas of high or substantial transmission: All personnel (military, civilian, non-appropriated fund employees, and Auxiliary), on-site contractors, and visitors must wear a mask inside Coast Guard buildings. This requirement applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated personnel. It also applies in areas where social distance can be maintained. CDC guidance provides various exceptions, including when you are eating, engaged in water activities, or conducting high-intensity activities.
  • Unvaccinated personnel: You must wear a mask inside Coast Guard buildings, regardless of community transmission level and social distancing. “Unvaccinated” includes individuals who are less than two weeks past their final vaccine of Pfizer, Moderna, or Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • Vaccinated personnel: Do not need to wear a mask in areas of low or moderate transmission.

Attestation and testing

The Coast Guard is developing policy, guidance and tools for:

  • Verifying vaccination status through “attestation”
  • Testing unvaccinated personnel
  • Addressing situations where personnel decline to attest to status

This guidance will apply both to Coast Guard employees and on-site contractors, and will be released in the near future.

Visitor Screening

  • Vaccinated visitors to Coast Guard units: Must provide their vaccination record and comply with all required safety protocols. A visitor is defined as the general public or any personnel or contractor not assigned to the workplace. 
  • Visitors who are unvaccinated or decline to provide their vaccination status: Must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test dated within the past three days prior to entry. This requirement applies to (a) visitors requesting entry into a Coast Guard building and (b) personnel participating in a Coast Guard-hosted meeting, indoor event, or conference located at any non-Coast Guard location. 
  • Foreign visitors: Must provide proof of vaccination with a vaccine listed on the World Health Organization Emergency Use List.
  • Exceptions: Vaccination records are not required for visitors entering a Coast Guard building to obtain a public service or benefit, such as personnel visiting Regional Exam Centers, Coast Guard Exchange and MWR operations. At these locations, visitors must comply with all relevant CDC guidance, including wearing a mask and physically distancing from other people.

Military Travel Restrictions

The Coast Guard is restricting travel for all unvaccinated active-duty military members, including reservists on active duty. There are no new travel restrictions for vaccinated members.

  • Unofficial Travel: Unvaccinated military members are only authorized local travel while on leave or liberty. For purposes of this message, local travel is defined by the commanding officer/officer in charge or first O-6 in the chain-of-command. Leave travel outside of the defined local travel zone is prohibited. This includes previously approved leave. Waivers to travel outside of local zones while on leave or liberty must be granted by the first O-6 in the chain-of-command.
  • Unofficial Foreign Travel: Leave travel to or through foreign countries or territories is prohibited for unvaccinated members. This includes previously approved leave. Members may request a waiver, with final approval authority at the first flag officer/SES in their chain of command, in extenuating circumstances.
  • Personnel stationed overseas: Follow the guidance of the cognizant DOD/CCMD or DOS/COM, as applicable.
  • Returning from foreign travel: All unvaccinated personnel returning from travel may not return to a Coast Guard workspace within 14 days of completing that travel. All unvaccinated personnel who live with someone who is subject to self-monitoring - due to travel or exposure history, as confirmed by a positive COVID-19 test - shall not return a Coast Guard workspace without a negative COVID test within the past three days.

Non-Military Travel Guidance

The Coast Guard is updating its recommendations for unvaccinated civilians regarding unofficial travel. While not mandatory, this guidance is highly recommended. It applies to unvaccinated civilian personnel, reservists not on orders, dependents, Auxiliarists, and non-appropriated fund (NAF) personnel.

  • Leave or leisure travel to or through foreign countries or territories is highly discouraged. Consult the CDC and DOS travel advisory websites prior to making any decision. If you travel internationally, you may be screened for COVID-19 symptoms when you return to the Unites States.
  • Returning from foreign travel: All unvaccinated personnel returning from travel may not return to a Coast Guard workspace within 14 days of completing that travel. All unvaccinated personnel who live with someone who is subject to self-monitoring - due to travel or exposure history, as confirmed by a positive COVID-19 test - shall not return a Coast Guard workspace without a negative COVID test within the past three days.

Contractor Travel Requirements

  • Foreign travel:  Contract personnel who have traveled (or plan to travel) to or through foreign countries or territories are required to notify their contracting officer’s representative.
  • Returning from foreign travel: All unvaccinated personnel returning from travel may not return to a Coast Guard workspace within 14 days of completing that travel. All unvaccinated personnel who live with someone who is subject to self-monitoring - due to travel or exposure history, as confirmed by a positive COVID-19 test - shall not return a Coast Guard workspace without a negative COVID test within the past three days.

Meetings and Events

  • Large gatherings: The DHS Secretary must approve any Coast Guard or DHS hosted in-person event attended by more than 50 participants. This applies to meetings, conferences, or other indoor events, regardless of whether participants include members of the public. Approval requests for approval must be submitted through the chain of command to the Coast Guard COVID Communications Action Team (CCAT). 
  • Exemptions: Normal periodic unit meetings which exceed 50 Coast Guard participants (e.g., all hands musters, training, Area Maritime Security Committee meeting, mission-essential exercises) are exempt from this process. Operational command decisions regarding outdoor events of 50 participants or more should consider the potential for unfavorable publicity/media attention.

Close Contact Exposure

The Coast Guard today is updating its guidance for vaccinated individuals who have had close contact with someone exposed to COVID-19.

  • Individuals who have been fully vaccinated and have had close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 shall get tested three to five days after exposure, even if they do not have symptoms.
  • The individual may still report to work but shall wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until their test result is negative. 
  • These requirements are important because vaccinated individuals can still contract and spread the virus.

Vaccinated Personnel with COVID-19

  • Fully vaccinated personnel who test positive for COVID-19 must follow the guidance in the COVID-19: Reaffirmation of Isolation Guidance for Persons Testing Positive for COVID-19 ALCOAST 273-21 .

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