The Coast Guard is enforcing a strict travel policy for its members amid the spread of the coronavirus.
New policy from the service restricts Coast Guardsmen from traveling on personal leave within the United States or territories if there is “sustained community transmission” in the area, according to Coast Guard Spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Scott McBride.
“Official travel to U.S. locations experiencing sustained community transmission of COVID-19 may only be performed if it is mission-essential, time-sensitive work that cannot be handled via distance or remote means,” the guidance states. “Commands should consult cognizant state, local, tribal and territorial public health authorities to determine if sustained community transmission is occurring. Commanders should also consult with their cognizant Coast Guard clinic senior medical executive for guidance on official travel.”
COVID-19 is the strain of the coronavirus currently designated as a pandemic.
Members of the Coast Guard are also prohibited from taking leave to foreign countries affected by a level 2 or 3 travel health advisory notice. The directive applies to leave that has already been approved.
Travel health advisory notices are issued by the Centers for Disease Control. Level 2 states travelers should practice enhanced precautions, level 3 suggests avoiding nonessential travel.
The guidance goes farther than the Defense Department policy released on Wednesday. That policy implements a 60-day travel ban on areas considered a level 3 risk. As of Thursday, those places included all of continental Europe, South Korea, China, Venezuela and Iran.
The Coast Guard also stated that Coast Guardsmen should not attend conferences unless they are mission essential and time sensitive.
Service members returning from a level 2 or 3 country may not return to work for 14 days.
“Personnel who live with someone required to self-monitor due to travel or exposure history may not return to work for 14 days and must consult with their supervisor,” the memo states. “Personnel who are advised during airport screening to self-monitor may not return to work and must consult with their supervisor.”
Civilians who work for the Coast Guard are highly discouraged from traveling to areas with sustained infections.