Naval Station Newport imposes coronavirus-related restrictions
By SEAN FLYNN | Newport Daily News | Published: March 18, 2020
NEWPORT, R.I. (Tribune News Service) — Naval Station Newport has imposed a series of restrictions to to safeguard military personnel and their families during the COVID-19 crisis.
"Thankfully, no one on base has tested position for the coronavirus," said Lisa Woodbury Rama, the Naval Station's public affairs officer.
All domestic travel for military personnel has been halted unless it's for mission-essential travel or humanitarian reasons, according to Department of Defense guidelines.
"A very small number of military personnel is being allowed to change stations," Rama said in a phone interview. "The situation is extremely dynamic and changing daily."
Movement on the base and the number of visitors on the base has been restricted, according to a number of measures taken on the base, she said.
"Naval Station Newport has adjusted operating hours and services, canceled events and closed others in an effort to follow Centers for Disease Control health guidance to the full force to ensure our people are informed of best practices for staying healthy," Rama wrote in an email. "We are minimizing the opportunity of potential exposure."
Access to the John H. Chafee Fitness Center was restricted to active duty military, reservists and Department of Defense civilian personnel only beginning on Wednesday.
The Officer's Club and Auto Skills Center on the base were closed. Planned buffet dinners at the Community Recreation Center were canceled.
The visitor policy at the commissary has been revoked. There will be "100% I.D. card checks at the entrance of all stores," said the notice Rama sent. "We believe this will reduce the number of people in our stores and help with social distancing, crowd control, etc."
There will be no more "early bird" shopping hours to allow more time for cleaning and re-stocking of commissary stores, the notice said. For updated information go to www.commissaries.com
"Naval Station is the Navy's Center of Excellence for Officer and Senior Enlisted Education and Training — as such — we have an extremely high population of military men and women who are learning and living in close contact," Rama said. "The Navy protects its people and our people protect the nation — the training and education continues."
The Naval War College has moved completely to online instruction.
The other major schools located at Naval Station Newport include the Officer Training Command Newport, Naval Academy Prep School, Surface Warfare Officers Command, Marine Corps Detachment Newport, Navy Leadership & Ethics Center, Naval Chaplaincy School and Center, Navy Supply Corps School and Naval Justice School.
"The vast majority of students at these schools live on base and do not have the capability to telework," Rama said.
The schools are continuing instruction and will hold graduation ceremonies. However, those ceremonies will be limited to the military students and faculty, Rama said.
Among other on-base restrictions, the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society closed its thrift store and stopped use of donation bins. Personnel and families were asked not to drop donations off outside the building.
No in-person appointments and non-medical counseling are taking place at the Fleet and Family Support Center. Essential services are being provided, including only the Family Advocacy; Sailor Assistance and Intercept for Life; and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs. All other training, classes and events have been postponed to limit close contact.
The Naval War College Museum has been closed to the public and the Army Veterinary Clinic is closed until further notice. Services at the Chapel of Hope have been canceled.
The Personnel Support Detachment is performing only time-sensitive services. These include issuing initial Common Access Cards or lost or stolen cards, Teslin ID cards and renewing if they are due to expire within the next 30 days.
Personnel should make appointments at: https://rapids-appointments.dmdc.osd.mil Telephonic updates to Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) records can be made by calling 1-800-361-2508.
The Region Legal Service Office is providing attorney services by phone. To schedule an appointment, please call 401-841-3766, ext. 200, or email: LEGAL_ASSISTANCE_DET_GROTON@navy.mil. Notary services have been suspended.
Not on base, but of related interest to military families, the Rhode Island Veterans Home, at 480 Metacom Ave., Bristol, imposed a series of restrictions in response to the crisis, Rama said.
New admissions to home have been halted temporarily and no outside activity groups will be allowed at least until March 31. Residents who routinely leave the facility are required to remain at the home.
No visitation to the home is allowed other than those essential to care and these visitors must also be older than 18 years of age, and not be feeling sick or experiencing any of the following symptoms: cough, fever, chills, runny nose, stuffy nose, sore throat, or shortness of breath. People who have traveled internationally in the last 14 days are not allowed to enter the home.