WASHINGTON -- In the wake of the rapidly expanding world-wide coronavirus outbreak, the Navy has issued two administrative messages outlining new travel and transfer rules in effect until May 11.
The temporary change in policies is needed to protect Sailors, families and civilians while helping combat the spread of the virus.
In place now is a 60-day stop for non-mission essential travel -- impacting permanent change of station orders, temporary and training duty as well as personal leave and liberty within the continental United States and select areas overseas.
“Shipmates, the spread of the coronavirus is something that we are taking very seriously,” Adm. Michael M. Gilday, the Navy’s top uniformed officer said in a March 13 statement to the service.
“Our number one concern is the health and the safety of you, our Sailors – active and reserve, uniformed and civilian – as well as your families.”
In addition, Gilday is urging command leadership to use all means available to prevent the virus from spreading in the ranks. As a result, he is “encouraging flexible work schedules and the use of telework -- all designed to slow the virus’ spread.”
The guidance comes in two separate messages.
NAVADMIN 065/20 released on March 14 declared an all stop on any movements inside the United States and updated official and personal travel rules. That message is an update to NAVADMIN 064/20 issued on March 12 which outlined the situation for overseas travel and transfers.
Both messages will remain in effect until May 11, unless rescinded earlier.
Navy Reserve personnel will follow guidance released by the Chief of Navy Reserves.
Here’s what you need to know.
Combined, the orders could impact more than 20,000 Sailors and their families slated to transfer during the next two months inside the United States and to certain overseas locations.
NAVADMIN 064/20 shut down for 60-days, all overseas Permanent Change of Station moves to or from countries which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have issued Level 3 travel advisories.
As of March 16, CDC Level 3 warnings had been issued for all 29 countries in and around Europe, as well as South Korea, China and Iran. The message added the stop will also apply to any locations designated Level 3 in the future.
Sailors slated to transfer to overseas CDC Level 2 advisory locations are still green-lighted to go. For now, service members will transfer first, with family members to follow in 60-days.
The CDC currently has a global Level 2 warning. This means all countries, worldwide are at risk. Sailors, families and military civilians should take necessary precautions – including avoiding non-essential travel to, from or inside effected areas.
The CDC is leading the U.S. Government efforts, regularly assessing the current risk of coronavirus and other diseases and issuing guidance for those residing in the United States about traveling abroad.
Ratings are numeric, ranging from one to three. Level 1 is a “watch” and urges travelers to practice usual precautions. Level 2 is an “alert” to practice enhanced precautions. Level 3 is a “warning” to avoid any non-essential travel to that location.
Sailors transferring overseas to CDC Level 3 countries, who have already detached from their last permanent duty station, will be held en route. Those with any questions about the impact on their own situation or their family members should contact either their chain of command, their detailer or the MyNavy Career Center for guidance.
The message also directs detaching and gaining commands to make every effort to reach already detached Sailors to ensure they are aware of the stop and direct them where to get help.
For Sailors being held en route, commands are being given wide latitude to use existing authorities, on a case-by-case basis, in order to decrease the financial impact to service members because of this policy.
Sailors and Navy civilians returning home from Level 3 countries they’ve left within the past 14-days, must notify their gaining command and then self-quarantine for 14-days before resuming any official duties.
The guidance also encourages their dependents to follow suit. Here, too, commands are asked to use existing authorities to decrease any financial burden on Sailors.
However, those transferring between locations inside the United States, who have already detached from their previous duty station, are authorized to continue on to their final destination, including any intermediate stops.
The order does not apply to PCS Travel for Sailors who are retiring or separating during the next 60 days.
Official Travel and Training
During the stop, official travel for things such as meetings, conferences or site visits and even training is off, unless an exception is granted by higher authority.
One situation already approved is for health reasons, where Navy medical providers can travel with Sailors or family members in need of medical treatment.
Other exceptions are available, but only if such travel is deemed mission essential.
Those already underway on official travel can finish their trips and return home as scheduled.
Leave and Liberty Restrictions
The order doesn’t impact local-area leave and liberty, which remain authorized.
It will be up to local commanders to define what travel limits should be for their own commands. They are expected to take into account that the intent of the travel restrictions is to protect Sailors, families and military civilians while limiting the spread of the virus.
Sailors with questions should ask their chain of command about how the stop movement order might impact any already scheduled or future leave and liberty requests. This is especially true if that travel is away from home.
Those already on leave as the policy goes into effect are authorized to return home when their leave expires.
Exceptions to the all stop for either transfer or official and personal travel are possible, but only when the movement is deemed “mission essential, is necessary for humanitarian reasons or warranted due to extreme hardship.”
The Navy defines “mission essential” as “work that must be performed to ensure the continued operations of mission essential functions.”
For PCS travel, those exceptions must be approved by Navy Personnel Command.
Official travel or leave and liberty exceptions must be approved by the first flag officer or senior executive service (SES) in that individual’s chain of command.
All commands in the Navy are also being encouraged to put in effect policies to help limit Sailor and family member exposure to the virus. This includes using flexible work hours, alternating work schedules and telework.
That guidance comes from the highest levels.
“For now, we must use an abundance of caution,” Gilday said. “Keep an eye on your Sailors and continue to follow the guidelines of health officials, which includes washing your hands more often, avoiding public gatherings, and staying away from others if you’re sick -- don’t be a hero.”
All service members and their families, both in the United States and abroad, need to be aware that there is currently no vaccine to prevent the coronavirus. This means the best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure.
People tend to be the most contagious when they are showing symptoms related to the coronavirus. However, there are reports of the virus spreading even before a person shows symptoms.
“Our understanding of the coronavirus is rapidly evolving,” Gilday said. “We may have to implement further measures to combat the spread of this virus.”
General information on impacts to Permanent Change of Station orders will be put out on npc.navy.mil, or reach us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MyNAVYHR/.
Impacted Sailors within 60 days of their PCS are currently being contacted by their detailers.
If a Sailor has not been contacted, they can access their detailer's information by logging on to MyNavy Assignment, or by going to the NPC website -- www.npc.navy.mil -- and clicking the “contact your detailer” link in the top left hand corner, or by contacting the MyNavy Career Center Contact Center at 833-330-MNCC(6622) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. MNCC is open 24/7 and agents are standing by to connect Sailors with detailers.