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Air Force releases grooming, fitness guidance during COVID-19

(U.S. Air Force graphic)

(U.S. Air Force graphic)

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) --

As COVID-19 health protection conditions and physical distancing guidelines inhibit access to barber shops, hair salons and fitness centers across the Air Force, leadership released guidance allowing installation commanders to make deviations to grooming and fitness standards.

In a message to Airmen March 31, Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, explained installation commanders have the authority to adjust standards as needed, while also encouraging Airmen to maintain grooming and fitness standards to the greatest extent possible.

“Our professionalism and pride comes through in many ways, but starts with us being mentally and physically disciplined to look the part,” he said. “In uncertain times, it is even more important that our Airmen and Space professionals are able to provide a sense of stability and professionalism. We count on commanders to find the appropriate balance and maintain our place within the profession of arms as we carry out our duty to the American public.” 

To ensure the health and safety of service members and their families, commanders have the authority to allow deviations to both grooming and fitness standards. Adjustments should be done within reason and not inhibit proper uniform wear, accomplishment of duties, impact individual readiness or prevent the use of protective or safety equipment. 

“While adjustments for (fitness) testing were necessary under our current circumstances, service members are still expected to maintain personal fitness to ensure continued good health and readiness,” Kelly said. “In the rare circumstance where individuals who are not otherwise under a medical profile are unable to maintain fitness standards due to safety or other restrictions, commanders have authority to deviate from fitness standards to ensure the health and safety of service members and families.” 

Airmen are expected to adhere to shaving standards outlined in Air Force Instruction 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance.

For more information about grooming and fitness guidelines during the pandemic, Airmen and Space professionals should contact their chains of command.