Navy base adjusts installation access policy

LINING UP: On Saturday morning, readers shared photos of long lines of cars and people as they wait to get into commissaries to purchase food and other necessities. Naval Base Guam has updated its policies, and veterans and retirees now can shop from Friday through Sunday. National Guard and reservists can access the base throughout the week. Contributed photo

Following heavy criticism and some long lines to access military stores, Naval Base Guam will now allow daily access of installation facilities to National Guard members and reservists.

Additionally, veterans and retirees will have access to the Santa Rita facility Friday through Sunday.

In response to the confirmed cases of COVID-19, Naval Base Guam and Andersen Air Force Base issued a revised policy memo about a week ago restricting base access to those who are on active duty.

Guam Del. Michael San Nicolas asked Joint Region Marianas command to reassess the decision. Naval Base Guam on Monday announced its new policy, and Joint Region Marianas asked Andersen Air Force Base to reconsider its policy and respond to their request this week.

'A proper balance'

Naval Base Guam's revised policy noted that veterans and retirees age 60 and above, as well as people with disabilities who require assistance, will be authorized exclusive shopping privileges from 10 a.m.-noon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the commissary and from 9-11 a.m. at the Navy Exchange.

Officials reiterated that anyone with flu-like symptoms will not be permitted access to the exchange or commissary.

"NBG, in consultation with public health authorities, will continue to evaluate and make changes to these policies, as required, to ensure a proper balance between public health and mission readiness," officials stated.

Quantity limits are being applied for those shopping in the commissary or Navy Exchange, according to a Naval Base Guam press release.

According to the release, Commanding Officer Capt. Jeffrey Grimes said the changes at Naval Base Guam "will continue to prevent local transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by limiting unnecessary personal interactions and maximizing social distancing while allowing improved access for all authorized personnel."

The press release noted that the following personnel are authorized to access Naval Base Guam at all times:

• Active-duty military and United States Coast Guard personnel and their authorized dependents;

• National Guard and Reserve Component personnel and their authorized dependents;

• Department of Defense civilian employees and their authorized dependents;

• Navy Exchange and Defense Commissary Agency employees; and

• Full-time contractors executing mission-essential base operating support, maintenance and construction.

Patrons such as veterans and retirees who do not fall into any of the categories listed above are authorized to access Naval Base Guam all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, NBG requests that patrons come to the base at different times of the day to avoid long lines in the morning, limit unnecessary personal interactions and maximize social distancing," officials stated.

"NBG requests that patrons attempt to access the base only during authorized times. Attempts to enter the base when not authorized causes unnecessary social interactions with critical NBG first responders who are tasked to provide safety and security of the installation."

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