Bell lifts some COVID-19 restrictions, stresses vigilance

  • Published
  • By John Ingle
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – After roughly a year of command directed restrictions based on public health safety recommendations, some limitations have been lifted for permanent party members – with a few caveats.

Brig. Gen. Kenyon Bell, installation and 82nd Training Wing commander, on March 19, 2021, notified Team Sheppard that they can now eat inside restaurants and use gyms off base, something that hasn’t been authorized since March 2020. A commitment to following rules implemented since COVID-19 hit the area and the situation in the local community led to the decision.

However, the general still encouraged vigilance and common sense with the announcement.

“While these activities are permitted, remember that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should,” he said. “If you walk into an establishment and observe large crowds without proper physical distancing and mitigation protocols, be strong enough to walk away and try again at a different time or a different establishment. Use good judgement.”

Bell also took the opportunity to remind personnel that, in accordance with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s Feb. 4, 2021, memorandum, the wear of masks on federal installations is still mandatory with a few exceptions. In general, mask wear is required indoors in public places, but a person in an office with floor-to-ceiling walls can remove their mask.

While Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has removed the mask mandate for the state, nothing changes for Sheppard personnel when off the installation.

“Sheppard AFB members are hereby directed to continue to wear masks even off the installation when appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained,” he said. “While this is a requirement for military members, our valued civilian and contractor teammates are encouraged to do the same.”

The commander, recognizing the COVID-19 vaccine is still voluntary under the Emergency Use Authorization, encouraged people to further protect themselves, their families, workplaces and community by getting vaccinated.

Bell said the installation will remain in Health Condition Bravo, but staying at the new level of activity will largely depend on conditions continuing to improve.

“We have a unique mission set at Sheppard AFB with numerous Airmen in Training living in close quarters along with a number of international partners, sister service members and transient Total Force members that frequent our installation for necessary training.  These factors require close monitoring to ensure mission accomplishment and continued healthy community.”

Visit to review the Sheppard COVID-19 Recovery Guide.