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Naval Academy midshipmen granted liberty after being restricted to rooms for nearly a month

The Naval Academy started vaccinating midshipmen against the coronavirus on March 11, 2021 in order for them to participate in summer training, where they will work with Naval crews.

U.S. NAVY

By HEATHER MONGILIO | The Capital | Published: April 3, 2021

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — After nearly a month of being confined to their rooms as the Naval Academy controlled a COVID-19 outbreak, midshipmen will be allowed on liberty.

First- and second-class midshipmen were allowed outside of the yard Friday, as long as they do not venture outside a 35-mile radius. All midshipmen, who are not on restriction or have other military duties, will have liberty Saturday through Monday, although there are different time restrictions based on the class, Naval Academy spokesperson Cmdr. Alana Garas said.

First- and second-class midshipmen were allowed on liberty until 11:59 p.m. Friday. Liberty begins for those midshipmen at 8 a.m. on Saturday and at noon for third-class midshipmen and plebes. On Sunday and Monday, liberty for all mids will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 11:59 p.m.

If in downtown Annapolis, Eastport or West Street, midshipmen must wear service dress blues. First- and second-class midshipmen may wear civilian liberty attire outside of those areas.

There are COVID-19 restrictions placed on liberty, and the yard will continue to be closed to visitors. Midshipmen must follow mask and social distance guidelines, and because the academy is still in Health Protection Condition Charlie, no indoor or outdoor dining is allowed. Midshipmen can order take-out and eat at a sponsor's house, Garas said. Gatherings are limited to 10 people or less.

Alcohol is allowed for midshipmen of legal drinking age, outside of plebes, but it can only be consumed at a sponsor's home, she said.

Midshipmen are also allowed to attend indoor religious services as long as the facility or organizations follow COVID-19 mitigation guidelines.

This is the first time midshipmen have been allowed on liberty in over a month. Up until about two weeks ago, midshipmen were on a restriction of movement period while the academy addressed a COVID-19 outbreak.

The academy declined to say how many midshipmen were positive for the disease citing operational security, but almost 200 midshipmen — including 98 mids recovering from COVID-19 — were moved to hotels in order to increase isolation and quarantine space in Bancroft Hall. Midshipmen are no longer residing in the hotels.

During that time, midshipmen took classes online with in-person classes resuming March 29. All midshipmen who wanted the COVID-19 vaccine have received it.

Spring break would have typically happened during the month that midshipmen spent in the restriction of movement period. The Naval Academy, following other colleges around the country, canceled spring break this year.

Commissioning and graduation is slated for May 28. The academy has not yet announced if it will be in person.

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