The U.S. military in Europe stepped up its response to the deadly coronavirus last week as six new cases were diagnosed in defense communities in Germany and Italy, and the World Health Organization declared Europe the epicenter of the global pandemic.

Service members were banned from traveling to or from most European countries from the U.S. after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that transmission of the virus was widespread on the Continent and raised Europe to Level 3 on its Travel Health Notices.

American bases in Italy locked down, along with the rest of the country, after Prime Minister Giuseppi Conte extended restrictions on movement and public gatherings from the north of the country, where Aviano Air Base and U.S. Army Garrison Italy are situated, across the entire nation of 60 million.

People were ordered to stay home, schools were shut, and most shops, bars, cafes and restaurants were closed under the drastic measure to fight the virus, which has hit only China harder than it has Italy. An official authorization form was required to go grocery shopping, walk the dog, seek medical care for health or medical reasons, or go to work if required.

On base, gyms and many eateries in food courts were shuttered. Off base, all retail businesses except grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and post offices shut down.

When Conte ordered the sweeping restrictions, 631 people in Italy had died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and more than 10,000 were infected. By Saturday, the death toll had nearly tripled to 1,809 and nearly 25,000 people had been infected by the virus since the first case in Italy was confirmed at the end of January in a pair of Chinese tourists.

On Sunday, USAG Italy announced that an Italian civilian who worked at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza had tested positive for the virus and was being treated in a local hospital. The employee last worked at the garrison on March 5, the garrison said in a statement. It was unclear when the Italian worker was diagnosed with COVID-19.

The first American service member in Europe to be diagnosed with COVID-19 was a sailor based in Naples. He has been isolated at his home near the city’s airport since his diagnosis on March 6.

Five people connected to U.S. military communities in Germany also tested positive for the virus last week. Among them were two service members — a soldier in Wiesbaden and a U.S. European Command officer in Stuttgart. The others were an American who works at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a civilian employee at Ramstein Air Base, and a German who works for the Army in Bavaria. All are either staying at home or undergoing treatment in German hospitals.

“This is not an exhaustive list and includes other high-density locations,” where it was impossible to stand at least 1 meter away from the next person — called social distancing — or where there was increased risk of close physical contact with others, said a temporary signed by Maj. Gen. Christopher O. Mohan. Mohan is commander of the Army’s 21st Theater Sustainment Command and senior officer for Army installations in U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz.

There was little evidence Saturday of social distancing at a local supermarket in Kaiserslautern that’s popular with Americans from nearby bases, even as much of Germany ratcheted up its coronavirus measures to include school closures and bans on large gatherings.

Although some shelves in the store had been stripped bare by shoppers, a sign at the checkouts warned that no one would be allowed to purchase anything in quantities that were deemed by store management to be excessive for normal household use.

Germany had 3,795 positive lab tests for COVID-19 and eight deaths as of Saturday, according to the Robert Koch institute in Berlin.

Department of Defense Education Activity schools in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain will close for students starting Monday, DODEA spokesman Stephen Smith said. DODEA schools in Italy and Bahrain had already closed because of the virus.

Service members around Europe — and the globe — were placed on a 60-day stop movement order that applied to “permanent changes of station, temporary duty assignments, government-funded travel, personal leave and non-official travel, temporary duty, government funded travel, personal leave, and other non-official travel,” a message posted on Naval Air Station Sigonella’s Facebook page said.

At Air Force bases in the U.K., which, with Ireland, was added Sunday to a list of countries whose citizens are barred from traveling to the U.S. because of the coronavirus, officials said “zero” airmen have shown signs of coronavirus infection.

In Norway, where the 501st Combat Support Wing has a base in Stavanger, 1,056 people had been diagnosed with COVID-19 as of Saturday, a steep rise from 227 positive cases at the start of last week, and two people have died. Prime Minister Erna Solberg has ordered schools and universities to close, and bars and restaurants that can’t keep customers at least 1 meter apart to shut down. In addition, foreigners who aren’t permanent residents of Norway are barred from visiting.

Sailors at Naval Station Rota were urged to “remain calm” as Spain imposed restrictions around the country, where more than 100 people died of the virus between Friday and Saturday, and around 2,000 more people were diagnosed with COVID-19. The measures in Spain mirror those put in place in Italy.

“We will overcome this together if we remain calm, and (are) respectful of these measures, our neighbors, and each other,” Rota officials said in a statement seen by Stars and Stripes.

The microscopic virus has also forced the cancelation of a U.S.-led cold weather exercise in Norway and caused the largest U.S. military exercise in Europe in a generation to be scaled back. Some 20,000 American troops were supposed to cross the Atlantic to take part in Defender Europe 20 but that number will be reduced because of the coronavirus outbreak, EUCOM said.

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