Defense officials announced restrictions on domestic travel, Saturday, for Service members, Defense Department employees and family members in response to the new coronavirus, or COVID-19.
David Norquist, deputy defense secretary, signed a memo halting all domestic travel, including permanent changes of station and temporary duty travel. The ban is in effect until May 11.
Officials speaking on background said the new memo said Service members will be authorized local leave only.
The ban is in addition to restrictions on all DoD military and civilian personnel and their families traveling to, from, or through areas for which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice. That policy also stops PCS and TDY travel through May.
There are exceptions for hardship, mission essential and humanitarian travel, but those exceptions must be approved. Domestic travel for medical treatment is excluded from the ban.
The officials said the new policy is aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus. Each day, tens of thousands of Service members and DoD civilians are traveling. This ‘’strategic pause’’ is ‘’the best and safest route’’ to slowing the virus’ spread, they said.
As of Noon Wednesday, the Level 3 countries are: China, Iran, South Korea, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City.
Personnel who return from these countries will be required to self-isolate for 14 days before being allowed back to work, officials said.
Pentagon officials are also closing employee fitness centers and said they are looking at other measures to lessen the chances of transmission.