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Florida among 11 states stuck with Department of Defense travel restrictions due to COVID-19 cases

The state doesn’t meet all of the department’s criteria for lifting travel restrictions.

The Department of Defense recently lifted pandemic-related travel restrictions on service members, civilian workers and their family members across 39 states. Florida is not one of them.

That’s because Florida doesn’t meet the department’s criteria, including a 14-day downward trajectory of new COVID-19 cases or positive tests. Instead, on Friday the state surpassed its own single-day record for new coronavirus cases with 1,902 recorded infections. That’s in a week of more than 1,000 new cases reported nearly every day.

Florida health officials have said the increases are due to increased testing.

Other criteria for lifting military travel restrictions include the removal of a state’s shelter-in-place orders and a 14-day downward trajectory of flu-like and COVID-19-like symptoms. A state must meet all three criteria to have travel restrictions lifted, a department spokesperson said in an email. Florida has met only one, the lifting of its shelter-in-place order by the governor.

Under the department’s restrictions, all government-funded travel for military service members, civilian workers and their families must stop into and out of the area unless it meets the criteria. That includes leaves and permanent moves to a new assignment. There are exemptions, such as travel for medical purposes.

For service members at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, the restrictions also mean they can’t travel off-base farther than two hours away without an approved exception, said Cpt. Samantha Morrison, spokeswoman for the 6th Air Refueling Wing.

MacDill remains under Health Protection Condition Charlie as of June 3, “to protect the health and safety of our personnel, and to posture our teams to help mitigate the risk of contracting or spreading respiratory illnesses like the flu or COVID-19,” according to a memo by the acting commander of the 6th Air Refueling Wing, Col. Benjamin Robins.

In-person meetings are limited to no more than 10 people who can adhere to strict social distancing rules, unless otherwise approved. Face coverings are mandatory inside public areas, including the commissary. And mission-essential functions directed by unit commanders are not to exceed 50 people, while practicing social distancing to the greatest extent practical, per the memo.

“Above all, stay safe and remember that your cooperation in adhering to social distancing and restriction of movement is our best defense against COVID-19,” Robins wrote.

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