US Navy relaxing COVID-19 travel restrictions to allow duty station moves, leave

Navy

(WAVY) — After months on hold, the U.S. Navy is relaxing COVID-19 travel restrictions for its sailors.

Service members will now be able to move duty stations and take leave, but certain conditions still apply.

Permanent change of station moves, also known as “PCS” moves, will be priority-based. Leave could require a waiver depending on where the sailor is traveling.

Navy officials tell 10 On Your Side these directives could change depending on where the virus spreads. 

“By early calendar year 2021, we should be through this,” said Rear Adm. Brad Skillman, director of enterprise support in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

Skillman said that’s the tentative timeline the Navy has to clear its backlog of permanent change of station moves. 

Since March, some 42,000 sailors have had orders in limbo.

That backlog is more than half of the Navy’s PCS moves for the year. 

“For us, it’s incredibly critical that we man the fleet,” Skillman said.

High-priority sea duty units will be manned first. 

“So sailors on ships, sailors that are at aircraft squadrons supporting deploying aviation squadrons,” Skillman said, listing some high-priority units.

Next, priority is moving new recruits to fill operational sea duty positions followed by filling other positions. Shore duty billets in the continental U.S. will be last. 

State and regional criteria and naval installation criteria will be monitored and classified as ”green” or ”red.”

Green means “go” — but whether it’s a PCS move or requested leave, travel in areas that are red will require a detailed plan and/or a waiver. 

“The factors for the state and region really go into — they removed their local travel restrictions,” Skillman said. “You have to have essential services available, so things pretty open.”

It’s possible some sailors who already have orders may be adjusted up to six months in either direction. Others could receive new orders altogether.

Skillman said he knows it’s a trying time for service members, but he promises the Navy will be there for every step. 

“You will see us try to do the best by our sailors and their families throughout the entire process,” he said. 

For more information on PCS restart, click here.

For more information on condition-based phased approach to personnel movement and travel, click here


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