Pentagon issues new rules for ‘Return to Normal Operations’ worldwide

(US Department of Defense)

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has issued new guidelines  to ease global travel restrictions for U.S. military personnel and to allow DoD base commanders worldwide to prepare for a return to normal operations.

Esper lifted the  blanket travel restriction imposed in March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and replaced them with “conditions-based guidelines” designed to allow domestic and overseas travel to and from locations that have seen a drop in COVID-19 cases.

The new guidelines read, in part: “While the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic still presents risk to DoD Service members, civilians, and their families, improving conditions warrant a transition in our approach to domestic and overseas personnel travel to a conditions-based, phased approach to personnel movement and travel.”

You can find the plan here.

READ the release from the Pentagon in FULL below:

Today the department unveiled the “Pentagon Reservation Plan for Resilience and ‘Aligning with National Guidelines for Opening Up America Again’” for returning to normal operations. The Pentagon Reservation resilience plan places the health and safety of our workforce first. 

Building upon the three-phased White House Opening Up America Again plan, and applying guidance from OMB, OPM, and the CDC, the Office of the Chief Management Officer, in collaboration with the under secretary for personnel and readiness, the Joint Staff, the military services and the DOD COVID Task Force, has developed a five-phased plan that reflects our priority on the health safety of our workforce as we enable them to return in a controlled and steady manner.

Since mid-March we have taken aggressive steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 among our people, implementing health protection measures that resulted in a sustained transmission rate below that of the region at large. 

With the support of Secretary Esper and other leaders in the organization, we have been able to isolate, trace, and mitigate any spread. 

To date, teams have deep cleaned and sanitized over 1 million square feet of office space on the Pentagon Reservation to CDC standards.  And, for the first time ever, maximized telework options have enabled more than two-thirds of the Pentagon Reservation workforce to continue to deliver the mission at alternate work locations. 

We could not have achieved these results without the flexibility, cooperation, and support of the thousands of government employees, contractors, and vendors who are following the force health protection measures. 

We are currently at Phase Zero. Transitions between phases are tied to local conditions, not to specific dates.  And if we detect a resurgence in the spread of COVID-19, we will reassess our protection measures and workforce phase and respond appropriately. 

The plan provides phase-by-phase guidance to commanders, supervisors and employees to safely and effectively return to Pentagon Reservation offices. Along with guidelines for in-office and telework targets; vulnerable populations; entrance screening; and the status and cleaning of common areas, food courts, gyms and other facilities, the plan includes mandatory requirements regarding face coverings, social distancing, and symptomatic personnel throughout each phase.