• Armed services personnel, DoD civilian employees will not be allowed to travel out of their local areas
  • The travel restrictions are effective Monday, March 16
  • The restrictions will be in place through May 11

Members of the U.S. armed services and civilian employees of the Defense Department who reside or serve on military properties will not be allowed to travel out of their local areas as of Monday (March 16), according to a Pentagon announcement Friday. The purpose of the domestic travel ban is to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, now classified as a global pandemic.

A memo signed by Defense Department Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist read, "The continuing spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) necessitates immediate implementation of travel restrictions for domestic Department of Defense (DoD) travel. These restrictions are necessary to preserve force readiness, limit the continuing spread of the virus, and preserve the health and welfare of Service members, DoD civilian employees, their families, and the local communities in which we live.”

The travel restriction is scheduled to end May 11 but could be extended depending on the status of the pandemic in the United States and globally. Service members will be able to shop at the local grocery store but will not be allowed to visit relatives in another state.

The May 11 end date is an interesting choice for observers of the webpage titled 'Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE)' at Johns Hopkins. It keeps a running tally of the total confirmed cases, the total deaths and the total number of people who have recovered. A bar graph at the bottom right of the page shows the new confirmed and new recovered cases on a day-by-day basis.

The graph begins Jan. 20, about a month after the virus was first detected. Since February, the number of new cases has averaged about 2,000 per day. On Feb. 14 there was a small spike of about 6,500 and another spike of 7,300 on March 11. The outliers on the graph are Feb. 13 and March 13, with 15,100 and 16,200 new cases, respectively.

The Pentagon The Pentagon Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB

It will be interesting to see what the new daily case number will be for Monday, April 13. Another spike will have a lot of people wary of May 13, two days after the scheduled end of the travel restriction.

Only time or perhaps a new vaccine will reveal the swath of the virus and if the cancellations of major sporting and other events along with the travel restrictions were worth it under the guise of “an abundance of caution."

One sure thing is that any outsider looking for employment at a military base will be out of luck. The Friday statement by the Defense Department said that the restriction "will also pause civilian hiring at DoD installations and components for persons who do not reside within the hiring entity's local commuting area."