Soldiers are banned from going to Baumholder bars after coronavirus case
By JENNIFER SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 15, 2020
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Bars and pubs in the Baumholder area were made off-limits to service members Thursday after an employee at a local watering hole popular with Americans tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said.
Visits to all establishments in Baumholder “whose primary business is the sale and consumption of alcohol” were banned until further notice, an order signed by U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz commander Col. Vance Klosinski said.
Four of the taboo bars were named: the Ibiza, the Rockbar, the Mythos Pub and Blue.
It was an employee of the Rock Bar who went to work after contracting the virus, Wochenspiegel, a local newspaper, reported on its website Tuesday.
“Because the contact information gathering (at the bar) was full of holes and did not meet coronavirus mitigation regulations, all guests who have visited the bar since Oct. 2 are asked to urgently contact the Idar-Oberstein health department,” the paper said.
The ban on bars came as Germany recorded the highest, single-day jump in new cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic – 6,638 – and put new restrictions in place, including limits on alcohol sales and obligatory mask-wearing in high-risk areas.
Birkenfeld county, which includes Baumholder, is a low-risk area for coronavirus infections, according to data compiled by Germany’s public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute.
Forty-two soldiers based at Baumholder have had the virus since the end of September and were reported by the Army to the county health department, a local newspaper said Wednesday.
A spokesman for USAG Rheinland-Pfalz would not confirm those numbers citing Pentagon policy that prohibits commands from reporting coronavirus cases among its personnel for operational security reasons.
The ban on bars applies to service members stationed or on temporary duty at USAG Rheinland-Pfalz’s installations or assigned to any units in its footprint, Klosinski said in the memo.
Family members and Defense Department civilians are “highly encouraged to follow this guidance in order to assist in our team’s effort to suppress the spread of this virus,” it said.
Services on Baumholder that were closed for the long holiday weekend extended their closures until the end of this week as a preventive measure “to limit possible exposure by reducing the number of people frequenting” them, the base said on its Facebook page.
The shuttered facilities included gyms, the pool, the VAT office, Outdoor Recreation, the Arts and Crafts Center, the library, the golf course, the shuttle bus and the food court.
The U.S. Army's Smith Barracks sits on a hill above Baumholder, Germany. U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz officials on Oct. 15, 2020, issued an order barring military community members from frequenting bars and pubs in Baumholder after an employee of one of the establishments continued to work despite testing positive for the coronavirus.
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