Fort Benning Commanding General signs order, easing COVID-19 restrictions

Military

FORT BENNING, Ga. – Trainees with 30th Adjutant General Battalion (Reception) stand at parade rest while awaiting instructions from drill sergeants. These trainees are part of social distance enabled training, or SDET. The first two weeks of training are modified in order to conduct controlled monitoring and confirm the trainees are virus free before shipping to one-station unit training. (U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning Public Affairs)

FORT BENNING, Ga. (WRBL) – Fort Benning commander Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe issued an order on Thursday, Sept. 24 easing COVID-19 restrictions for military and civilian personnel on post and in the surrounding community.

According to the order, “all individuals, whether military or Civilian, who are assigned, attached, live or work on, and visit the MCoE and Fort Benning SRO area of responsibility” will now be allowed to:

  • Attend outdoor ceremonies and other personally organized events where six feet of social distancing can be maintained.
  • Attend indoor ceremonies and personally organized events that do not exceed 25 personnel unless an ETP is approved by the first Colonel (O-6) in the CoC, and where social distancing can be implemented at the venue.

Where social distancing cannot be maintained, event attendance is still prohibited. All affected individuals, including family members, as defined in the order are also required to maintain six feet of distance, wear face masks and coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained or they will be in an enclosed space with others.

From the order, the restrictions in place are used for “preserving the health of Soldiers, Civilians, and Family Members.” Federal, state, and local health guidelines will also be followed, with potential other restrictions on activities in place “to maintain good order and discipline, health and safety, and ensure the readiness of our force.”

In addition to the attendance and hygiene requirements, the order also applies the following off-post limitations and restrictions:

  • Dining at indoor restaurants is limited to restaurants that have measures in place for social distancing between tables, and restaurant employees are waring facemasks. Spending a limited time inside these establishments is encouraged to minimize potential risk of exposure to the virus.
  • Attendance at bars, which the order defines as a location where 50 percent or more revenue comes from alcohol sales, is prohibited.
  • Personnel may use gyms that implement social distancing and where gym employees wear face masks. Minimizing time in an indoor, off-post gym should be minimized to decrease exposure risk, according to the order.
  • Outdoor activities are permitted as long as they are done while following IAW federal, state, and local guidelines, and social distancing of six feet is maintained.
  • Indoor activities are permitted as long as IAW federal, state, and local guidelines are followed, and six feet social distancing is maintained.

Donahoe, who took command at Fort Benning after an assignment in South Korea, issued the stricter COVID orders on July 17, when he assumed command.

The order also says that while traveling on leave is permitted, Commanders are responsible for making “risk based decisions on individual travel.” Individuals who are traveling by POV must maintain “standard protective posture” while traveling, including mask use, proper hygiene as defined in the order, and social distancing.

If traveling by commercial transport, individuals must employ safety mitigation measures such as wearing a mask at all times, wiping down seats and tray tables, and using hand sanitizer.

Among other guidelines in the order, General Order Number 6 reads in part:

“Restrictions on the way we conduct certain activities remain essential to preserving the health of Soldiers, Civilians, and Family Members. However, we will not allow the virus to cause damage to our collective health or morale through the use of mitigation measures that may have minimal or no effect on preventing the spread of COVID-19.”

General Order Number 6, Issued Sept. 24, 2020

As General Order Number 6 takes effect, General Order Number 5, which was published July 17, is rescinded.

See the full order below:

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