Here’s what you need to know about the new guidance for troops planning to travel during coronavirus pandemic


Troops looking to travel on temporary duty, for a permanent change-of-station or for vacation will have to complete a risk assessment, and possibly a restriction-of-movement before and/or after, per Defense Department guidance published on Thursday.

The guidelines can also apply to operational movements, but component commanders have more local guidance, which may include more restrictions, but might also allow aircrew, for example, to travel without ROM on either end.

“Adherence to this guidance will protect the health of personnel and enable prevention of the spread of COVID-19 within and outside the United States,” Defense Undersecretary Matthew Donovan, who heads up the personnel and readiness office, wrote in a memo.

All service members will need to do a risk assessment before travelling, and if they are bringing dependents, that travel won’t be reimbursed unless they have also completed an assessment.

Those requirements include documenting whether someone has had any COVID-19 symptoms, whether they’ve been contact with a confirmed case or someone otherwise symptomatic and whether he or she knows what to look for and what steps to take if a COVID-19 infection develops.

“Service members, DoD family members, DoD civilian employees, and DoD contractor personnel should not travel if they have tested positive for COVID-19 and have not yet met the critera for discontinuing isolation, or they are symptomatic,” Donovan wrote.

They should also push back any travel if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, or been symptomatic, he added.

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If a command determines that a ROM is necessary for travel, a service member and any accompanying dependents will be confined to their home, and should stay six feet apart from any family members or roommates, while monitoring for symptoms. If any develop, they will report that to their chain of command.

Those rules apply to installations marked cleared within the U.S., but traveling outside the country will subject troops to the policies of those countries. That includes a two-week ROM before leaving, unless the country requires one after arrival.

For troops traveling with family members, they must take accountability for their dependents also completing a ROM.


Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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