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U.S. Navy Issues Strict COVID-19 Travel Limits for Personnel

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Personal luggage loading aboard a U.S. Navy Greyhound transport plane aboard the carrier USS Eisenhower, Dec. 2019 (USN file image)

By The Maritime Executive 03-13-2020 06:22:00

On Friday, acting U.S. Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly announced strict new travel and work restrictions related to the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Effective immediately, all travel by Navy personnel in or through foreign locations listed by the CDC as high risk (Travel Health Notice Level 3) is prohibited. Navy civilians and servicemembers who have change-of-station orders that would take them in or out of one of these locations are on hold until further notice.

As of Friday, the CDC's Level 3 warning list includes all nations in Europe, along with China, Iran and South Korea. 

Any Navy personnel who have been in a higher risk (Level 2 or Level 3) location outside of the U.S. within the past 14 days are advised to contact their supervisor and follow CDC self-quarantine protocols. Those who are able to telework during their self-quarantine may be asked to do so. 

Only high-ranking officers (rear admiral and above) are permitted to issue case-by-case waivers for these new travel restrictions. Waivers may be granted for prohibited travel that is mission-essential, necessary for humanitarian reasons or warranted due to extreme hardship. 

There are several general exceptions. Servicemembers who are retiring or separating within 60 days are not affected by the travel restrictions unless they meet CDC guidelines for self-quarantine. Navy civilian employees with approved leave in an overseas CDC Travel Health Notice Level 1-3 location may keep their plans, but are advised that they assume certain health risks and will be required to self-quarantine upon their return. 

In addition to the hard limits on CDC-listed locations, all Navy personnel have been asked to defer any non-mission-essential travel to any location until further notice.