FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general issued General Order No. 3 and rescinded GO No. 2 to loosen a number of restrictions previously put in place to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maj. Gen. David J. Francis announced the new GO during a Facebook Live event June 11 while also praising the Fort Rucker community for its efforts in the fight to protect its people, its mission and its surrounding communities.
“We wanted to reach out today to thank you all for the sacrifice, cooperation and resiliency the community here at Fort Rucker has shown over the past few weeks to help fight against the COVID-19 virus,” Francis said during the video he did along with Command Sgt. Maj. Brian N. Hauke, Aviation Branch command sergeant major. “Your efforts and cooperation have helped us achieve criteria to ease some of our control measures.”
The general added that a recent defense secretary memorandum designated Alabama as a “Green” state in terms of travel restrictions, which also gave discretion to regional installation commanders to tighten restrictions based upon local conditions.
“Fort Rucker garrison, tenant units and USAACE staff have diligently tracked conditions over the past few months, and based on a 14-day sustained downward trend in COVID cases, I have decided to ease some controls associated with our previous mitigation efforts,” Francis said.
With GO No. 3, people can now travel up to 100 miles from Fort Rucker, a 50-mile increase over the previous restriction, he said, adding that “visitors are now authorized, but those that exhibit symptoms consistent with COVID or believe they have been exposed will report to the chain of command immediately.”
While maintaining social distancing and the wearing of face coverings requirements remain in place, the new GO does loosen a number of the restrictions, including the 10-person gathering limit being removed.
“Now you can go to the beach, you can shop at a department store, you can attend worship services and you can go to fitness centers, as long as you maintain that six-feet of separation or wear a mask,” Francis said. “Restaurants remain take-out only for military personnel, and due to high risks associated with certain facilities, military personnel are prohibited from visiting bars, night clubs, dance clubs, movie theaters, spas, massage parlors, tattoo parlors, and seating areas in- and outside of restaurants, regardless of state policies.”
Access to post has also been changed to what it was before the pandemic (See sidebar).
The quarantine policy is still in effect for personnel who PCS or are conducting TDY at Fort Rucker until further notice, he added.
Hauke also commented that diligence and discipline is key to protecting our mission at Fort Rucker.
“This easing of some of the restrictions is testament to the adherence to mitigation efforts of our community thus far,” he said. “We are not out of the woods yet though. We need to remain diligent so as not to compromise the health of our community. Please maintain social distancing efforts, wear face coverings when unable to keep the six feet of spacing and keep stringent hygiene standards to ensure we can continue this transition to normal operations. We are proud of this team and hope to continue the downward trend to get back to activities we all enjoy.”
As a sample of facilities reopening include the Andrews Physical Fitness Facility opening June 12, being closed through the weekend because of manning issues, and then reopening June 15; the child development center and school age center reopening to all authorized patrons June 15; the youth center reopening June 29; in-person chapel services restarting; and the U.S. Army Aviation Museum reopening June 15.
For a complete and updated list of changes to services on post, visit https://home.army.mil/rucker/index.php/services-status.
To ensure the health and safety of the Fort Rucker community, officials will continue to monitor state and local community health conditions, as well as its own policy changes, Francis said, adding that “we continue to evaluate conditions to ease restrictions and open services as conditions permit.
“I ask for your continued diligence. Our established priorities remain the same. We will continue to protect the force, protect the mission, and communicate with our local community to mitigate the threat that the COVID virus poses to our Soldiers, civilians and local communities,” he added.
“The bottom line is that we can and will beat COVID-19,” Francis said, “Remain diligent and maintain distancing to prevent future outbreaks, and continue to monitor our social media and other announcements for future updates.”
To see the latest COVID-19 discussion, visit https://www.facebook.com/ftrucker/.
To see GO No. 3, visit https://home.army.mil/rucker/application/files/2415/9190/5806/FRGO3_11_June_2020.pdf.
In support of General Order No. 3, Fort Rucker will resume routine access control operations June 12 and will no longer issue the COVID-19 Special Visitor Access Pass for people not affiliated with the Department of Defense who request access to the installation.
Authorized access control credentials include:
1. DOD credentials – DOD Common Access Card, DOD Retiree Card, DA Form 1602 Civilian Identification Card and the Veteran's Health Identification Card are the most common.
2. Fort Rucker Visitor Access Card – Commonly used by people not affiliated with DOD. People who have an expired Fort Rucker Visitor Access Card are required to renew their cards at one of the visitor control centers at the Daleville or Ozark gates.
3. Fort Rucker Special Visitor Access Card – These were issued during the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone with a Fort Rucker Special Visitor Access Card issued during COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged to go to one of the VCCs to obtain a standard Fort Rucker Visitor Access Card before June 30.
4. Friends and Partners of Fort Rucker Visitor Access Card – also for people not affiliated with DOD.
The Daleville VCC is open Mondays-Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Ozark VCC is open Mondays-Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Read more about the requirements on our website at https://go.usa.gov/xwgcq.