U.S. military to halt domestic travel due to coronavirus
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[March 14, 2020]
By Idrees Ali
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military
said on Friday it will halt, with some exceptions, domestic travel for
service members, Defense Department civilians and families in a move
aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus and its impact on the
The move, which goes further than previous restrictions on international
travel, highlights the degree to which the U.S. military is concerned
and the lengths it has to go to try and protect the more than a million
active-duty troops around the world.
President Donald Trump declared a U.S. national emergency over the
quickly spreading coronavirus on Friday, opening the door to more
government aid to combat a pathogen that has infected more than 138,000
people worldwide and left over 5,000 dead.
"The continuing spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
necessitates immediate implementation of travel restrictions for
domestic Department of Defense (DoD) travel," a memo, signed by Deputy
Secretary of Defense David Norquist, said.
The policy would go into effect on Monday through May 11 and would be
for service members, Defense Department civilian personnel and their
families "assigned to DoD installations, facilities, and surrounding
areas in the United States and its territories," the memo said.
"This restriction will halt all domestic travel," a Pentagon statement
accompanying the memo said.
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Exceptions could be granted for mission essential travel, travel
necessary for humanitarian reasons, and travel warranted due to
extreme hardship, it said.
The impact of the coronavirus on everyday life has deepened around
the world. It was detected for the first time in several countries,
with the World Health Organization (WHO) calling Europe the
pandemic's current epicenter.
More schools and businesses closed, the global sporting calendar was
left in tatters, and people faced greater restrictions on where they
The U.S. military's official tally of servicemembers and related
personnel who have been infected by the coronavirus likely
undercounts the actual total, the Pentagon has said. Until Tuesday,
four U.S. service members had coronavirus.
Officials say the generally low age and good health of U.S. troops
is a mixed blessing of sorts -- allowing U.S. servicemembers to
better withstand the virus, but perhaps also allowing them to become
carriers who fail to exhibit the kinds of symptoms that trigger
(Reporting by Idrees Ali; editing by Richard Pullin and Michael
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