Army in Stuttgart to reopen gyms, day care as coronavirus threat level eases

A fitness center employee on Panzer Kaserne maneuvers a spin bike to set up physically distanced spin classes. Gyms in the Stuttgart military community are expected to reopen Monday after being closed for months during the coronavirus pandemic.


By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 5, 2020

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STUTTGART, Germany — The Army in Stuttgart eased its health threat level to condition Bravo, signaling a moderate risk of transmission and the return of garrison services, as the number of coronavirus cases continues to decline at what was once a hot spot.

Child Development Centers and gyms will open Monday at a reduced capacity to ensure social distancing, garrison commander Col. Jason Condrey said in a town hall meeting Thursday.

Food courts and other indoor dining locations also will open Monday with capacity limits and mask requirements, Condrey said. Playgrounds on post were slated to open Friday.

Stuttgart is the first Army garrison in Europe to relax its threat level, Installation Management Command Europe said Friday.

“In coordination with local host nation authorities, garrison commands across Europe are reviewing health protection condition level of their installations or facilities based on the risk level in the local community,” said Mark Heeter, IMCOM-Europe spokesman.

Other garrisons are working through plans to adjust the threat level status and open services as appropriate, with more expected to move to Bravo “in the days ahead,” Heeter said.

In March, the Army ordered health threat levels to be elevated to the second-highest level, condition Charlie, as coronavirus cases climbed within the ranks.

Stuttgart, which is home to U.S. European and Africa commands, reported 103 confirmed cases as of early April when the Pentagon directed commands to stop reporting local base tallies.

With more reported cases than any other overseas base, the garrison in Stuttgart imposed strict social distancing measures that included restrictions on the number of days personnel could visit commissaries and post offices.

Conditions continue to improve even though occasional cases “pop up,” Condrey said.

Local commanders have the authority to make decisions on when to open facilities and ease health protection levels. For the Air Force in Germany, Spangdahlem Air Base earlier this month also shifted to Bravo while Ramstein Air Base was still at Charlie as of Friday.

Stars and Stripes reporter Jennifer Svan contributed to this report.

Twitter: @john_vandiver

The food court at U.S. European Command's Patch Barracks headquarters in Stuttgart is deserted on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Garrison officials plan to return tables and chairs to food courts, which are set to reopen Monday as coronavirus cases in Stuttgart decline.