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DoD Prepares to Extend Travel Restrictions

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Maj. Rober Fellingham
Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Pentagon is preparing to extend stop movement orders halting almost all travel, including permanent change-of-station moves and temporary duty, for troops, their families and civilian employees.

The original order, impacting domestic travel, went into effect March 16 as the COVID-19 virus spread across the U.S. and is slated to expire May 11. A similar directive halting overseas travel for 60 days was announced March 25.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said a new end date will be announced soon as officials continue to finalize plans. The orders also will be modified to better outline how the Defense Department addresses exemptions and handles exceptions, Esper said during a press briefing April 14.

“As this virus unfolds and as our mitigation measures take place, this is something we will be reviewing every 15 days to see if we can curtail it sooner or if we need to extend it longer,” he said.

Pentagon leaders will look at several factors when determining when travel can resume, including the number of cases and DoD’s testing capacity, Esper said. Leaders also will consider the 2.2 million-person force, many of them married with children who may be anxious to be moved and settled before the new school year in the fall.

“There are a lot more people affected by this,” he said. “Many who have suspended their lives. We’re trying to take all of these factors into account. At the same time, we’ve got to manage the force.”

DoD continues to grant exceptions for humanitarian reasons or in cases of extreme hardship. As leaders continue working on the policy, “protecting our people, protecting our communities will be task No. 1,” Esper said.