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New Navy COVID-19 restrictions could negatively impact local businesses

The Navy pledges that once COVID-19 numbers improve, the latest Health Protection Condition Level "Charlie" restrictions will be rolled back.

NORFOLK, Va. — Despite the resurgence of COVID-19, the Navy still has a job to do, performing its national defense mission.

So, the decision was made to return to Health Protection Condition Level "Charlie."

Rear Admiral Chip Rock, who is Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, made the call.

"Our number one goal all along has been to protect the force so that we can continue our mission or national security mission," he said. "We'll continue to watch the infection rates here locally like we have been very closely. And, when conditions warrant, we'll relax the measures that we put in place."

The return to "Charlie" means that Navy personnel in Hampton Roads must limit travel to and from their homes to their place of work, with stops only for essential services such as food, medicine, and child care.

Among the activities that are now once again off-limits: dining-in at restaurants, and using off-base services such as gyms and barbershops.

It's estimated that there are 89,000 uniformed personnel at Hampton Roads Navy bases and 107,000 military family members in Hampton Roads. Together, they have an estimated direct economic impact of more than $16 billion.

So with these new restrictions, that's a whole lot of money that won't be getting spent at impacted businesses, warns Tidewater Community College Business Professor Peter Shaw.

"Significant? You bet, and especially those restaurants that are near military residences," he said. "So, the impact, to me, would be very immediate, especially to those businesses and restaurants that are located very close to the residences of these military personnel."

According to the Navy, participation in team sports, going to amusement parks, and attendance at parades or other public celebrations are also prohibited. Social gatherings in sailors’ homes may not include more than 10 guests who don’t live there.

Travel restrictions associated with HPCON Charlie do not apply to personal leave and liberty travel outside of the local area for Navy service members, who must first receive approval from their commanding officers in accordance with Navy regulations. 

The Navy says sailors with specific questions about leave should contact their chain of command.