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Navy Suspends Second Round of Physical Fitness Assessments To Avoid COVID Spread

Sailors assigned to Navy Recruiting District Philadelphia participate in the Navy’s bi-annual physical readiness test at Naval Supply Activity Philadelphia Fitness Center on Oct. 24, 2019. US Navy photo.

Sailors will not have to take a fall 2020 physical fitness assessment (PFA) as part of the service’s efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

A July 7 NAVADMIN announced that this would be the second consecutive fitness cycle suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic and that personnel will be marked “excused” in their records.

Local commanders will not have to record any entries in the Physical Readiness Information Management System (PRIMS) for the fall cycle, as the Physical Readiness Program Office will take care of the records.

The suspension of physical fitness testing also applies to organized or group physical training at the command level, with some exceptions for recruit training or if unit mission training requires physical training sessions.

For example, physical training at the Navy’s boot camp at Great Lakes, Ill., has continued with social distancing and face masks in place, as has other accession training such as SEAL and special warfare combatant-craft crewmen (SWCC) candidates at Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Center in Coronado, Calif.

Additionally, unofficial or mock PFAs will be allowed for those who need to pass a physical fitness test to regain eligibility for advancement or retention. Those mock PFAs must be conducted with local area and installation COVID-19 mitigation measures in place, involve no more than 10 people and allow for social distancing procedures, limit close contact to less than 15 minutes, involve masks and gloves, and more, as outlined in the NAVADMIN.

The Navy decided in mid-March to skip the spring round of physical fitness assessments as the COVID-19 pandemic was taking hold in the U.S. and threatening military readiness at home. The service authorized loosening of grooming requirements such as haircuts and suspending group physical training and physical fitness assessments.

Sailors attached to various commands managed by Naval Operational Support Center, North Island perform stretch exercises in preparation for their Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) conducted on Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, Calif., on Sept. 29, 2019. US Navy photo.

The Marine Corps did not initially take the same precautions at the headquarters level, instead leaving it to local commanders to decide if their regional levels of COVID-19 infections warranted any changes to grooming or fitness requirements.

The Marine Corps ultimately canceled its physical fitness tests (PFT) in an April 23 memo.

On July 7, Marine Corps Training and Education Command Commanding General Maj. Gen. William Mullen told reporters that the Marines’ PFT would resume next year.