When COVID-19 first hit the United States, there was one government agency that implanted agency-wide directives and restrictions in an attempt to control the spread of the virus.
The Department of Defense instituted a worldwide stop movement order – stopping all DOD travel whether permanent change of station or temporary duty.
DOD also implemented agency-wide mask mandates, telework initiatives and installation lockdowns. Restrictions on individual bases varied as local commanders made the best decisions they could, based on local conditions.
Some installations issued severe restrictions – Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., for example, barred retirees from the base at one time, some were more targeted – Edwards AFB, Calif., restricted retirees to specific days of the week.
As conditions improved, DOD lifted the travel restrictions – although it was regionally based and dependent on the local state coronavirus cases.
Over the last six months, as conditions improve, DOD has lifted travel restrictions on many installations and on Sept. 14, 2020, they released the latest update.
There are three criteria installations and regions must meet before travel restrictions can be lifted.
- Meet State/Country Opening Up America Gating Criteria (14 Day Declining Trend in Symptoms and Cases; No Stay At Home Order)
- Meet Installation Criteria (No Travel Restrictions, HPCON below Charlie, Essential Services Available, Quality Assurance in place for Movers)
- CMO, the Sec of a Military Department, or a CCDR approve lifting travel restrictions for an installation Step 1 and Step 2 criteria must be met before travel restrictions can be lifted for an installation by the Chief Management Officer, the Secretary of a Military Department, or a Combatant Commander.
Unrestricted travel is allowed for service members or civilians between installations that have met the criteria.
Because the lifting of travel restrictions is governed by local conditions, there can be instances where an installation in a state can see restrictions lifted, another installation in the same state or geographical location still has restrictions in place.
A good example of this is Arizona – where Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson have had travel restrictions lifted, Fort Huachuca near Sierra Vista has not.
Similarly, Edwards Air Force Base, Fort Irwin and Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow have seen restrictions lifted, but Naval Air Station China Lake, near Ridgecrest has not.
As for Nellis AFB, which at one time even barred retirees from accessing the base, the base commander lifted all base restrictions effective Sept. 4, and the base has been listed in the green column by DOD, which means travel to and from the base is now permitted.
A complete, worldwide list of DOD installations and their current travel status can be found at https://media.defense.gov/2020/Sep/16/2002498821/-1/-1/1/COVID_19_TRAVEL_RESTRICTIONS_INSTALLATION_STATUS_UPDATE_SEPTEMBER_16_2020.PDF.