More than 80% of military installations have eased COVID restrictions

Military bases across the world are beginning to ease restrictions set during the rise of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the past week, the Defense Department saw 15% of its bases lift travel restrictions, and allow unrestricted travel between installations or even let some service members venture farther off base.

As of May 5, 83% of military installations are without restrictions. It’s the closest DoD has been to a return to normalcy since the beginning of COVID.

Out of DoD’s 230 bases, 190 are currently in a position where restrictions are no longer needed. However, DoD and base commanders can reinstate COVID rules if cases begin to rise again.

The 40 bases that still have restrictions are spread throughout the globe. There are nine bases enforcing COVID travel rules in Japan, two in Germany, one in Italy. Guantanamo Bay in Cuba also has its restrictions still up.

In the United States, the bases under COVID rules seem to be shotgunned out: California, Alabama and Florida have a few bases still leashing travel.

DoD updated its travel restriction guidance in the last couple months. Mostly, the updates were reiterations of the current policy in a new administration, except for a few minor tweaks.

Bases must still move from “red” to “green” in order to lift restrictions.

Before an individual base can move from “red” to “green,” it will need to:

  • Show a 14-day declining trend in symptoms and cases and be in a state that does not currently not have a stay at home order.
  • Have already moved to Health Protection Condition “Bravo” or better — meaning the base is not experiencing sustained community transmission and has enough health care capacity to handle a spike in cases.
  • Get approval from a military department secretary or combatant commander to lift travel restrictions, once the other conditions are met.

Coronavirus is continuing to infect a substantial number of service members, DoD civilians and military family members. In the past week, nearly 4,000 people related to the military were diagnosed with the disease.

There were also three deaths, bringing the total death toll to 347.

In all, almost 290,000 people related to DoD have gotten coronavirus since last March. Service members make a large chunk of that with 190,000 cases.

About 184,000 service members have recovered, meaning there are still about 6,000 actively infected.

DoD is still pushing hard to get service members to get the coronavirus vaccine. Many service members and their families are reluctant to get the vaccine. The Pentagon admitted at least one-third of service members have been declining to get the shot.

To date, more than 558,000 service members and about 242,000 DoD civilians have gotten the shot. The military is not forcing service members to get the inoculation because the vaccine was approved by the government under emergency-use authority. However, President Joe Biden recently said he has not ruled out mandating that all service members get the shot.

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