NORFOLK, Va. - The Navy is beginning to ease COVID-19 related travel restrictions for Sailors and their families, impacting both duty station moves as well as personal leave and liberty.
A "stop movement" order was issued by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in March in order to mitigate impacts and enhance safety with the rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus.
In late May, Secretary Esper ordered a phased-approach to lifting restrictions and Navy leaders are now following that guidance by outlining who is allowed to move where and when.
"This is our opportunity to not only come up with good solid policies that make sense and are flexible so we can adjust them as the environment changes, but also allow us to man the fleet," Rear Admiral Brad Skillman told News 3 anchor Todd Corillo.
The Navy is using a color-coded tracking system of green and red to evaluate conditions in individual areas, with travel generally being allowed between green locations.
More than 42,000 Sailors and families were impacted by the halt to permanent change-of-duty station moves since March.
With restarting moves, the Navy plans to use a priority based system instead of projected departure date.
"The number one priority for a move is if they are going to an operational sea duty billet. If they are going down to the piers in Norfolk and they are walking onboard a ship and taking position there or they are going out to [Naval Air Station] Oceana and taking a position at a deploying squadron, that’s our number one priority. We have to fill and allow for operational readiness," Rear Admiral Skillman explained.
Getting through the backlog of household moves is expected to last through early 2021.