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Travel restrictions remain at Fort Bragg as Pentagon evaluates situation

Soldiers gather for a 2019 awards ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C.

JOSHUA COWDEN/U.S. ARMY

By RACHAEL RILEY | The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer | Published: July 5, 2020

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — As the Department of Defense has evaluated lifting travel restrictions for service members, restrictions on personal travel for Fort Bragg soldiers remained in effect as of July 1.

The Department of Defense announced in March that the travel restrictions applied to permanent change-of-duty-station moves in response to preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

In April, it extended the travel ban through June 30.

The April directive granted some travel waivers, which included exemptions for deployments, recruiting, basic training, advanced individual training, medical treatment and for those pending retirement and separation.

Exemptions could also be allowed for “compelling cases if the travel is mission essential, needed for humanitarian reasons or the restriction causes extreme hardship.”

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced May 26 that international and domestic travel bans are still in effect for temporary duty travel, government-funded travel leave, and permanent change-of-duty-station moves and personal travel outside of a “local area.”

During a virtual town hall meeting held March 18, Fort Bragg officials announced travel for the post’s soldiers was limited to a 50-mile radius.

On May 29, officials said local leave could be allowed within a 250-mile radius from Fort Bragg, if approved at the battalion or squadron level and not in a “high risk” area for the virus.

Esper said in May that allowing for unrestricted travel would be based on state and regional criteria outlined in the White House’s “Opening up America Again” plan, as well as installation factors and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

That guidance would be based on:

• A 14-day downward trajectory of flu-like and COVID-19 symptoms

• A 14-day downward trajectory of new COVID-19 cases or positive tests

As of June 30, North Carolina had 64,670 positive coronavirus cases, including 1,180 cases in Cumberland County, which borders Fort Bragg.

On June 8, the Department of Defense released 39 of 50 states where travel could be permitted based on conditions, which did not include North Carolina; and a June 19 update included 46 of 50 states, which did not include North Carolina.

A June 29 update listed 48 states, including North Carolina.

Officials said the states meet conditions to lift travel restrictions “subject to the assessment of conditions at individual military installations within” those areas.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic still presents risk to DOD service members, their families, and our civilian workforce, improving conditions warrant a transition in our approach to domestic and overseas personnel travel to a conditions-based, phased approach to personnel movement and travel,” Pentagon officials said June 29.

Officials said secretaries of military departments, commanders of combatant commands and the chief management officer will assess specific installations to remove travel restrictions at the installation level.

“If installation conditions are subsequently not met, the approval authority decides if travel restrictions should be reinstated,” officials said.

©2020 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)
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