NORFOLK, Va. — A total domestic travel ban has now gone into effect as of Monday for all U.S. troops, civilian personnel, and their families until May 11.
It's the latest step in the Pentagon's effort to limit potential exposure to the coronavirus outbreak.
In a memo, Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist says "All DoD military personnel will stop movement while this memorandum is in effect."
In addition, troops will be granted "only authorized local leave" for the duration of the travel restrictions, limiting their ability to visit family and friends out of town.
Exceptions to the travel stoppage are being made for patients and medical providers, as well as their families. Individuals who have already begun travel will be allowed to complete their trips.
This is an especially big deal in Hampton Roads for the Navy, with a total military and family population of more than 264,000 people.
In a message posted on the Navy's website, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday said: "Shipmates, the spread of the coronavirus is something that we are taking very seriously. Our number one concern is the health and the safety of you, our Sailors – active and reserve, uniformed and civilian – as well as your families."
At a Pentagon news conference Monday, Assistant Deputy Secretary of Defense said, "The solution to coronavirus is going to be a whole of government approach and we'll keep you all updated on how we're going to do that and let you know what we're going to do."
The Pentagon released a sheet of Frequently Asked Questions on March 13, which addressed extenuating circumstances like medical travel and members who were already in the middle of a move.
The department is exercising special restrictions for countries the CDC said are experiencing widespread ongoing transmission of COVID-19. As of March 16, this included many European countries.