Initial Entry Training soldiers wait on board their chartered aircraft to depart Columbia Metropolitan Airport in Columbia, S.C. for Fort Sam Houston, Texas, May 8, 2020.

Initial Entry Training soldiers wait on board their chartered aircraft to depart Columbia Metropolitan Airport in Columbia, S.C. for Fort Sam Houston, Texas, May 8, 2020. (U.S. Army)

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WASHINGTON — The Defense Department announced its stop-movement order will remain in place indefinitely, though some bases could meet new phased-in guidelines as early as Tuesday to allow travel for military personnel and their families.

A memorandum issued by Defense Secretary Mark Esper dated May 22 states he has canceled the prior travel guidance that went into effect April 20, which was expected to end June 30. He extended the travel restrictions for all government travel of personnel and their families indefinitely unless locations meet specific criteria to allow travel to resume.

“While the [coronavirus pandemic] still presents risk to DoD service members, civilians, and their families, 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,” the memo states.

The memo was released along with two other memos on guidelines for reopening the Pentagon and health guidance for personnel who are deploying.

Esper’s memo states regional criteria laid out by a White House directive and installation-level criteria based on local conditions need to be met in order to bring back unrestricted travel to states, territories and other countries.

Matthew Donovan, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said Tuesday that he expected some states and locations to be considered “green,” or meet the memo’s criteria as soon as Tuesday evening.

The White House’s Opening Up America Again guidelines require removal of local shelter-in-place orders, a 14-day downward trajectory in virus symptoms and a 14-day downward trajectory in new cases or positive tests. Data and guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be used as well to assess the local conditions.

Installations will be assessed by the services, which will report whether they meet four factors: removal of local travel restrictions; availability of essential services such as schools and child care; quality control and assurances for packing and moving household goods, and the capacity and capability to treat and test personnel.

Once areas and installations meet the memo’s criteria, they will be considered for permissions to travel to and from the area. Donovan’s office will publish locations that have resumed travel, according to the memo. He said during a news briefing at the Pentagon that the information will be published publicly, not just internally to the Defense Department.

There are still exemptions to the travel restrictions as with the previous travel guidance, including allowing new recruits to attend basic training and waivers for service members to move for reasons, including mission essential operations, according to the memo. Twitter: @caitlinmkenney

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