DOD restricts international travel for 60 days over coronavirus pandemic

The Pentagon (Photo by Ivan Cholakov / Shutterstock) 

The Defense Department is cracking down on travel to countries the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deems to have widespread and ongoing transmission of the coronavirus. All DOD personnel and family members' are restricted to travel to, from and through such countries starting March 13, according to DOD memos released late March 11.

DOD uniformed and civilian personnel, along with their families, are restricted from any form of travel, including personal and government-funded leave, temporary duty, and permanent change of station, for 60 days starting March 13.

Travel limitations also extend to civilian personnel up for relocation.

"Until the travel restrictions prescribed above are lifted, DOD civilian personnel hiring actions for positions in Level 2 and Level 3 designated locations are postponed for non-essential civilian personnel who have not yet begun travel," Mark Esper, defense secretary wrote in a March 11 memo.

DOD also issued force health protection guidance for all DOD components, including the National Guard and Reserves, as well as foreign military personnel working under its authority, recommending self-assessments and official screenings before and after travel to affected countries.

DOD travelers on military aircraft are subject to exit screenings, which could consist of a questionnaire assessing exposure risk, temperature checks for fevers over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38 degrees Celsius, and COVID-19 symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath. All suspected cases are to be referred to medical authorities.

DOD also instructed components to identify all service members who traveled to or through affected countries in the last 14 days for any reason and place them on restricted movement starting from the day of departure.

"DOD strongly recommends that DOD civilian employees, contractor personnel, and family members who travel to, through, and from countries with a DCD THN for COVID-19 follow this DOD guidance, which is more stringent than CDC guidance," Alexis Lasselle Ross, performing the duties of the defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness wrote in the March 11 memo.

For all other travel, DOD wants components to "encourage self-observation and accommodation of social distancing," including minimizing access to the workplace and supporting telework where appropriate.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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