The Coast Guard has announced updated policy regarding travel and leave limitations and procedures due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The major revision is that you can seek approval for official travel or leisure travel from the first O-5/GS-14 in their chain of command, or your unit CO/OIC. Previously, approval had to come from the O-6/GS-15 level.
Here is a full summary of current Coast Guard travel and leave policy for uniformed members, civilians, and contractors.
If you intend to travel, you must be aware of changing conditions in locations where you plant to travel to and through when making travel decisions. The best way to access that information is through the state, local, tribal, or territorial public health authorities. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) maintains a link to all state and territorial health departments. For questions or assistance in understanding this information, contact your local or nearest Coast Guard clinic. Please visit the Health Safety and Work Life and Coast Guard Clinic website for contact information.
Official travel within the U.S. is authorized for essential, time-sensitive missions, understanding that the number of time-sensitive missions will increase the longer that travel restrictions are in place. The unit commanding officer or officer in charge (CO/OinC), or first O-5/GS-14 in the chain-of-command must balance risk-to-mission and risk-to-member before authorizing official travel.
FORCECOM units are at varying stages of operating capability. FORCECOM will continue to resume readiness activities as the situation allows. Please visit this portal site for the current status of all FORCECOM readiness activities (AIA, Exercise Support, Class “A” and “C” schools). Waiver or cancellation requests for “A” or “C” schools due to COVID-19 travel concerns require approval from the first O-6/GS-15 in the chain-of-command.
Selective Reserves (SELRES) and IRR, in accordance with the COVID-19: Inactive Duty for Training (IDT) and Active Duty for Training – Annual Training (ADT-AT) Guidance – Update 1 ALCOAST 150/20, performing IDT and ADT-AT remain mission essential activities ensuring individual mobilization and unit readiness to respond to contingencies. However, commands are encouraged to provide maximum flexibility to their reserve members, while balancing operational readiness with exposure risk, especially those reservists who travel from outside of the reasonable commuting distance to their units in order to minimize exposure and maximize readiness if activation is required.
Military members, including reservists on active duty, are authorized local travel while on leave or liberty. Local travel is defined by your CO/OinC and should be informed by and generally aligned with state and local jurisdictional posture. If you travel outside of those locally defined zones while on leave or liberty you must discuss that with your CO/OinC and receive approval from the CO/OInC, their delegate or the first O-5/GS-14 in your chain-of-command.
When considering requests to travel beyond the local area, commands should weigh all risk factors including state and local government posture at the destination, mode of transportation, planned activities, lodging, and precautions taken by the requesting traveler. Before approving travel outside the local area, commands should weigh the impacts if quarantine/ROM/isolation are required post travel. Remember, you must follow CDC guidelines for safe interactions in public whenever on leave or liberty.
All members are reminded to follow CDC travel advisories that provide information about travel conditions.
Commands must ensure all members of their command are aware and understand applicable measures of COVID-19 Off Duty Risk Management (ODRM): Personal Responsibility and Behavior Choices During a Pandemic, ALCOAST 259/20 to reduce the risk of exposure, preserving force health readiness.
Commanders should continue to monitor CDC/state/local health officials’ guidelines in conjunction with local transmission assessments to safeguard the workforce through proper preventative and mitigation measures and conduct appropriate and frequent counseling for personnel both on and off duty.
The CDC is issuing Travel Health Notices (THNs) for impacted locations.
Official Foreign Travel. According to the DHS Deputy Under Secretary for Management Memorandum, dated March 17, 2020, Coast Guard official travel for all employees to locations that the CDC has issued a Level 2 or higher THN is restricted to only mission essential, time-sensitive work that cannot be handled via distance or remote means. For any official foreign travel, CO/OinCs should assess the risk-to-mission using the COVID-19 Risk Assessment Flowchart (COVID-19 PLANORD (series)). Members who are permanently stationed in a foreign country will follow the guidance of the cognizant Department of Defense/Combatant Command (DOD/CCMD) or Department of State (DOS) Chief of Mission (COM), as applicable.
- Military members, including reservists on active duty. Leave travel to or through foreign countries or territories is prohibited, to include leave that was previously approved. In extenuating circumstances, members may request a waiver, with final approval authority at the first flag officer/SES in their chain of command. For personnel stationed overseas, follow the guidance of the cognizant DOD/CCMD or DOS/COM, as applicable.
- Civilian Personnel, Reservists not on orders, Dependents, Auxiliarists, and Non-Appropriated Fund Personnel (NAF). Leave or leisure travel to or through foreign countries or territories is highly discouraged. Consult the CDC and DOS travel advisory websites prior to making any decision.
- Contractors. Contract personnel who have traveled (or plan to travel) to or through foreign countries or territories are required to notify their contracting officer’s representative.
Requirements. Commands and personnel are reminded to strictly adhere to the requirements of the DOD Foreign Clearance Guide in requesting and approving any foreign travel.
Quarantine/Isolation guidance: Commands have discretion in determining whether members returning from foreign travel from a country with an active CDC travel advisory must quarantine. However, members returning from foreign travel must still abide by all local rules concerning quarantine when not acting in the course of their official duties (e.g., driving to work).
Coast Guard-owned housing: Coast Guard military and civilian employees who reside in Coast Guard-owned housing, who are returning from personal travel from or through a location that the CDC has issued a Level 2 or higher THN should follow the above mentioned quarantine/isolation guidance.
Dependents of Coast Guard personnel and guests: Members whose dependents reside in Coast Guard-owned housing must notify the local housing officer/authority if their dependents or guests return from a location that the CDC has issued a Level 2 or higher THN.
Auxiliary. Auxiliary members returning from personal travel from or through a location that the CDC has issued a Level 2 or higher THN are authorized to participate in Coast Guard activities or visiting Coast Guard units and should follow the mentioned quarantine/isolation guidance.
Travel and Leave Approval. Units should make every effort to grant leave for military members when the risk is acceptable.
Quarantine/Isolation. Commands have discretion in determining whether members returning from foreign travel from a country with an active CDC travel advisory must quarantine. However, members returning from foreign travel should still abide by all local rules concerning quarantine when not acting in the course of their official duties (e.g., driving to work).
COVID-19 Duty Status. Commands must not charge leave while their military members are in a COVID-19 related duty status. COVID-19 related duty statuses include ROM, isolation, and quarantine.
This announcement also cancels the COVID-19: Travel and Leave Policy – Update 3, ALCOAST 396/20.