Navy authorizes grooming standards to be temporarily relaxed due to pandemic

Shipboard barbershops will continue to operate
USS Farragut Barber Shop
Joseph Cantu
Posted at 7:27 AM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 07:29:59-04

WASHINGTON - Commanding officers now have the right to temporarily relax grooming standards for men’s and women’s hair length, but only if those COs believe the move is necessary to maintain proper social distancing guidelines and limit Sailor exposure to the coronavirus.

According to the policy, NAVADMIN 073/20, it only applies to hair length. It does not apply to existing rules regarding sideburns, hair styles and facial hair shaving requirements.

“Commanding officers may allow for additional hair length and bulk on the sides, top and back of the head, Vice Adm. John B. Nowell, the chief of naval personnel said in the message. “At no time will relaxed grooming interfere with the proper wearing of Navy head gear, nor present an unprofessional appearance in uniform.”

Head gear applies to the proper use of protective personal equipment such as helmets, masks and protective hoods.

“Good judgement of leaders at all levels of the chain of command is required to ensure all possible COVID-19 precautions are being taken and grooming standards maintain the desired image of the Navy and its Sailors,” Nowell said.

Officials say that the Navy Exchange Barber and Beauty Shops will remain open for now, subject to each individual installation commanding officer’s guidance. Shops will limit the number of customers in the shop at any one time to maximize social distancing.

Those efforts will be in addition to the normal sanitation procedures NEX Barber and Beauty Shops must follow as directed by the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

These every-day requirements include cleaning and disinfecting of tools, and implements as well as surface areas with antibacterial cleaner, reports say.

Tools that actually touch customers, such as combs, brushes, shears, and clippers must be cleaned after each use, according to the new policy. Barbers and beauticians must also wash their hand with soap and water for at least 20 seconds between customers.

Shipboard barbershops will continue operate under rules put out by their commanding officer or type commander.

Sailors are reminded to take measures to minimize their exposure to the coronavirus when visiting or selecting any military or civilian barber shop or beauty salon for their grooming needs, Navy officials emphasize.