NORFOLK, Va. — U.S. Navy bases and personnel in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region were ordered Tuesday to limit travel and other activities as coronavirus cases rise.
The Navy said in a statement that the order was issued by Rear Adm. Charles W. Rock of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic. It impacts the world’s largest Navy base in Norfolk and several other installations throughout the region, including a large air station in Virginia Beach.
Sailors' travel will be restricted to commuting from home to work, with stops only for essential goods and services such as food, medicine and child care. Dining inside restaurants is not allowed. Neither is using off-base gyms and barber shops.
The Antietam is one of several Navy ships that has completed nine-month long deployments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order also prohibits participation in team sports and bans social gatherings in sailors' homes that have more than 10 guests who don’t live there.
“The health and safety of our Navy family is our number one priority,” Rock said in a statement. “We’ve been fighting this virus for a long time, but we’ve still got some more work to do and can’t give in to fatigue.”
The region’s Navy installations were operating at a less restrictive level since Sept. 23.
The Navy’s order follows one by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam that took effect Sunday at midnight and implemented new restrictions across the state. They include reducing the cap on gatherings from 250 people to 25 people and prohibiting alcohol sales at dining and drinking establishments after 10 p.m.
“COVID-19 is surging across the country, and while cases are not rising in Virginia as rapidly as in some other states, I do not intend to wait until they are. We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse,” Northam, who is a physician, said on Friday.
Service members would have to meet specific requirements or have an approved waiver to either leave the bases for another military installation or arrive for duty, according to DoD.
Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases in Virginia has increased by more than 20 percent, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from the COVID Tracking Project.
There also were nearly 250 new cases per 100,000 people in Virginia, which ranks 46th in the country for new cases per capita, according to AP’s analysis. One in every 763 people in Virginia tested positive for the virus in the past week.