Fort Carson soldiers head overseas

Soldiers from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, board a plane at Fort Carson’s Arrival/Departure Airfield Control Group in February. The soldiers deployed to Kuwait.

The Defense Department has halted troop and civilian worker travel through May 11 to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The Pentagon has previously halted trips to high-risk areas including China and Italy. The new order, which takes hold Monday, blocks all travel except for emergencies and military necessities.

"Our goal is to remain ahead of the virus spread so our military force remains effective and ready," the Pentagon said in a statement

The "stop movement" order also freezes military moves, which begin to ramp up this time of year as the services shuffle troops.

"Travel exceptions may be granted for compelling cases where the travel is mission-essential, for humanitarian reasons, or warranted due to extreme hardship," the Pentagon said. Those exceptions, the Pentagon said, will come from the top, with four-star generals, service secretaries and other top leaders signing off unless they choose to delegate their authority to lower levels.

It remains unclear what the order does for cadets from the Air Force Academy who were released for an early spring break this week as the school seeks to thin its ranks to slow the possible spread of the virus on campus.

The travel ban also reconfirms the decision made Friday to postpone the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. With no Pentagon brass, the show would have lost the bulk of its audience and would have lacked the customers that defense contractors seek during the weeklong gathering, which was set to begin March 30.

The same order blocks some military hiring through May 11. The change orders bases to only bring in local candidates during the travel ban. That means scores of civilian jobs at Pikes Peak region bases, which have more than 10,000 civilians on the payroll, could remain open through at least May 11.

Other orders have shut off visitors to military sites including the Air Force Academy and the Pentagon.

The services have also banned troops from large gatherings, canceling events including unit parties.

In a memo from the Pentagon, the Air Force announced it would halt most community outreach programs including band performances. An exception to that ban allows honor guards to continue to support military funerals.

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

Senior Military Editor

Tom Roeder is the Gazette's senior military editor. In Colorado Springs since 2003, Tom covers seven military installations in Colorado, including five in the Pikes Peak region. His main job, though, is being dad to two great kids.

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