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Pentagon taking steps to relax ‘stop movement’ order

The Pentagon said today that a “conditions-based approach” will be taken to relax the “stop movement” order that has been in effect for troops since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The order halting duty station changes was in place through June 30. Thousands of military members in Hawaii or with orders to Hawaii are affected by the policy. Service members were required to stop movement both domestically and internationally.

The Defense Department moves more than 400,000 service members, DOD civilians and their families each year, most often in the spring.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic still presents an overall risk to our service members, civilians and their families, varying conditions across the nation warrant this transition to a tailored approach,” Matthew Donovan, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said at a news conference today.

The Defense Department said the resumption of unrestricted travel must align with state and regional criteria based on the guidelines of the White House’s Opening Up America guidance.

Base officials also will adhere to guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Consideration of factors such as removal of shelter-in-place orders and a downward trend of new COVID-19 cases over the preceding 14 days will be used to make a determination for the resumption of movement between states, regions and nations,” Donovan said.

Installation-level conditions also will be evaluated.

“This includes items such as whether there are local travel restrictions, sufficient capacity of medical treatment facilities or local hospitals, testing capability and capacity and the availability of essential services such as schools and child care,” he said. “These factors will be carefully considered before movement decisions are made.”

In April, in order to help limit COVID-19’s spread and its impact on the force, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper issued updated travel restrictions for both international and domestic travel.

All service members and civilians and their family members were required to stop all official travel through June 30.

Exceptions could be given for “compelling cases” where the travel is determined to be mission essential, necessary for humanitarian reasons or warranted due to extreme hardship.

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