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What Do Travel Restrictions Mean for Service Members?

Current as of April 21, 2021


As the global coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic continues, the Department of Defense is reviewing local conditions by place to determine travel restrictions. The DOD uses the restrictions to limit virus spread, protect lives and preserve force readiness.

Below, find answers to the most frequently asked questions about travel. Visit the Military OneSource homepage for a weekly status update on installation travel restrictions. And check our Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page for information related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frequently asked questions for military personnel

A: There is no set date to lift restrictions broadly. Decisions will be made at a regional level and will be based on local conditions

A:  Leadership will involve the evaluation of various factors including:

  • Removal of local travel restrictions
  • Availability of essential services, including schools, child care and moving services
  • The capability to perform quality control and assurance for household goods packing and movement
  • Capacity of medical treatment facilities
  • Favorable health protection conditions

Visit the Military OneSource homepage for a weekly status update on installation travel restrictions.

A: The secretaries of the military departments, commanders of the combatant commands and the director of administration and management will continue to assess each U.S. state or territory and nations that host greater than 1,000 permanently assigned DOD personnel. Weekly status updates on travel restrictions will be posted to MilitaryOneSource.mil. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide guidance.

A: The restrictions apply to all service members, family members and civilian military employees using government-funded travel domestically and internationally. Except for exemptions and waivers, the restrictions apply to:

  • Temporary duty travel
  • Government-funded leave travel
  • Permanent duty travel, including permanent change of station
  • Travel related to Department of State authorized/ordered departures
  • Personal leave and nonofficial travel for DOD service members outside the local area
  • Onboarding of civilian employees outside the local commuting area (unless the government is not funding the employees’ travel to the local commuting area)

Continue to check our Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page for information related to COVID-19.

A: Government-funded travel is any travel that the government pays for. It includes PCS and TDY travel.

A: Each branch of service is putting procedures in place to safely continue recruiting and training. Call or email your recruiter for updates.

A: Commanders and supervisors will conduct a risk assessment of the health status and travel itinerary for service members requesting leave. Service members should not travel if they display a fever or other symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or if they have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 14 days. DOD personnel will comply with any DOD, federal, state and local restrictions while in a leave status.

A: Leave restrictions apply only to service members. However, we encourage military families to follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when deciding whether to travel. Following these CDC guidelines can protect others from getting sick:

  • When around others, stay at least 6 feet (about two arms’ length) from other people who are not from your household. It is important to do this everywhere, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when you are outside of your home.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • Watch your health: Look for symptoms of COVID-19, and take your temperature if you feel sick.
  • Find out about infection rates. You may want to reconsider travel if the number of COVID-19 cases is high at home or at your destination. The CDC keeps an updated list of United States COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by State, as well as a world map of COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.

A: The Pentagon remains open and operational, but with restricted access and enhanced health protection measures in place

A: Check with your supervisor before traveling. Travel is allowed for:

  • Travel associated with uniformed personnel recruiting and accessions activities
  • All Global Force Management scheduled deployments and redeployments
  • Authorized personnel who are awaiting transportation after departing their permanent duty station
  • Service members whose TDY ends while restrictions are in effect and are returning home
  • Service members and DOD personnel and their families who must travel for medical treatment
  • Medical providers who must travel to treat military and civilian DOD personnel or their families
  • Scheduled deployments/redeployments of U.S. Navy vessels and embarked units that are in transit for 14 days and meet restriction-of-movement requirements for current force health-protection guidance
  • Service members who are retiring or separating from duty while travel restrictions are in place
  • Travel by those under the authority of a chief of mission and authorized by that chief of mission
  • Travel from locations where the Department of State has issued an ordered departure
  • Return travel from safe havens when the Department of State has terminated an ordered or authorized departure
  • Travel to and from professional military education programs
  • Travel by civilian employees complying with overseas tour rotation agreement requirements
  • Leave travel for DOD service members

A: Exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis for travel that is:

  • Essential to the mission
  • Necessary for humanitarian reasons
  • Warranted due to extreme hardship

Requests must go through your chain of command.

A: Speak to your chain of command to find out if you qualify.

Travel restrictions outside the continental U.S.

A: The secretaries of the military departments and commanders of the combatant commands will continuously assess each DOD installation, facility or location.

A: The DOD will continue to move forces to meet operational needs and commitments to our allies. Decisions will be made based on the circumstances of each deployment and the spread of COVID-19.

A: You and your family will remain at your duty station until travel restrictions are lifted. Again, exceptions may be made for mission-essential travel, humanitarian reasons or extreme hardship.

A: Reservists who complete their overseas orders will be permitted to return home, unless extended to meet mission requirements. Reserve Component personnel (including National Guard) on official travel will complete any required health and restriction of movement measure, including home-based quarantine or self-isolation if required, prior to the end of the official duty period.

A: During any required or recommended ROM period individuals should:

  • Restrict movement to residence or other appropriate domicile
  • Limit close contact with anyone you didn’t travel with, adhere to strict wearing of face covering, frequent hand washing, avoid crowds, avoid use of public transportation, avoid close interaction with pets
    • Adhere to these guidelines for 14 days even if ROM period is less than 14 days
  • Consider ROM location as official duty location
  • Self-monitor for fever, cough, difficulty breathing or other COVID symptoms
    • If symptoms develop, self-isolate, seek advice via telephone with a healthcare provider, return to work only at the direction of the healthcare provider
  • Notify chain of command or supervisor if they or others in their household develop symptoms
  • Telework when practical per direction of commander or supervisor

Post-arrival ROM may not be required if travelers comply with destination health authority testing requirements.

A: That depends on your particular situation. The Department of Defense has newly authorized Hardship Duty Pay – Restriction of Movement in response to the COVID-19 emergency. If you are ordered to self-monitor somewhere other than your home and are not on official travel orders, you could be eligible for this pay. Contact your chain of command to find out if you qualify for this pay.

If you are eligible for this pay, you can receive up to $100 per day and $1,500 a month to compensate you for the hardship of having to pay out of pocket for lodging while in isolation. You must be paying to stay somewhere other than your own residence, a government lodging facility or a hotel that is paid for by the government. This pay is intended to defray the hardship incurred when you have to pay out of your own pocket, without reimbursement, for lodging due to orders from their command to self-isolate.

See the Department of Defense fact sheet COVID-19 Military Personnel, Pay, and Benefits Policy to learn about circumstances in which allowances are authorized.

Travel restrictions and your PCS logistics

A: Contact your Shipping Office to determine your shipment’s status. Depending on when it was picked up, it may be in storage in the local area, en route to your planned destination, or in storage near your destination.

A: Contact the Vehicle Processing Center. The VPC will locate your vehicle and arrange its return. For more information on your personal vehicle, visit Move.mil.

A: If the travel restrictions are affecting you and your family, you may do the following:

  • Contact your personnel or housing office and the gaining command to see if there are any options for temporary lodging
  • Check with your housing provider to see if your lease or purchase agreement can be delayed
  • Check to see if you may be exempt from the travel restrictions or if you could receive a hardship exception to proceed with the PCS
  • Ask your legal office if you have options under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and the rental/purchase contract’s military clause, which may permit you to cancel the contract

Contact your chain of command to learn what assistance is available to you. The Department of Defense will use all means available to help service members. The services also have relief societies that may be able to provide some emergency support.

Want to find the phone number for your installation’s housing office or military and family support center? Find those and more on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, an online information directory for military installations worldwide.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19:

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