Redstone Arsenal to reopen next week, officials say
By PAUL GATTIS | Alabama Media Group | Published: May 21, 2020
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(Tribune News Service) — Redstone Arsenal, the largest employee hub in north Alabama, will reopen on Tuesday.
Garrison Commander Col. Kelsey Smith made the announcement Thursday morning in a Facebook online town hall meeting.
The reopening will permit the dozens of tenant organizations at the Army base to make their own decisions about reopening. Smith advised that people working on the arsenal should check with their supervisors about returning to work.
The arsenal began shutting down in mid-March as the impact of the coronavirus began to spread throughout Alabama. Eventually, only about 25% of the more than 40,000 employees were working on base.
Smith said Thursday that arsenal officials who have been monitoring the spread of the virus that there have been five consecutive days of decline in new cases across the 16-county region from which the arsenal draws its workforce, including southern Tennessee.
Those numbers gave officials the confidence to begin reopening the base, though Smith cautioned that the crisis was far from over.
"I'm not saying we should all get excited," Smith said. "We are far from through this."
He described reopening the arsenal as a "first step toward recovery."
Smith advised those returning to work next week to expect a five-to-10 minute wait at the gates. Gates 1, 7, 8 and 9 will be open and every lane will be staffed with guards, Smith said. Over the past week, Smith said almost 10,000 cars per day were going through the gates and he expected that to rise to as high as 15,000 on Tuesday.
Child-care services will be open for the children of employees who were previously enrolled, Smith said.