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Army base to punish unvaccinated soldiers for going to indoor restaurants, bars, clubs, movies and more off-base

Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers maintain social distancing and wear masks to mitigate COVID-19 risk while conducting Soldier Readiness Processing at Fort Stewart. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. William Carraway)
August 12, 2021

Unvaccinated soldiers at Fort Stewart, Georgia, have been ordered not to eat indoors at restaurants off-base, or go to bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, amusements parks or tattoo parlors. The order remains in effect even when soldiers are off-duty, on leave, or on a pass and the order warns that violations may be punished under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

The 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart tweeted the revised general order for the base, which states in part, “Unvaccinated [military service members] may not go to the following businesses/activities: Indoor dining at off-post restaurants, bars (to include bars in restaurants), night clubs, live performance venues, indoor/outdoor sporting events (not including local recreational/children’s sporting events), indoor movie theaters, amusements parks and tattoo parlors.”

The order further states unvaccinated soldiers are still allowed to take out food from restaurants, dine outside at dine-in locations, attend religious gatherings, go to outdoor pools, barbershops, and indoor recreation and fitness centers such as gyms and bowling alleys.

The order also requires individuals wear masks at any on-base facilities.

All service members may take off masks in outdoor spaces, provided they are able to maintain social distancing. At outdoor physical training, service members may go unmasked and must attempt social distancing. Service members at indoor physical training can take off masks only if they can maintain six feet of social distancing. Personnel are also advised they do not need to wear a mask at their barracks or private residences.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Army base at Fort Stewart, Georgia announced the new COVID-19 restrictions during a base virtual town hall on Facebook.

Army Times reported Command Sgt. Maj. Quentin Fenderson, the senior enlisted leader for the 3rd Infantry Division said, “I know [there’s] going to be a lot of people who are . . .upset. But at the end of the day, we really need to get everybody on board to get the vaccination.”

The new COVID restrictions at Fort Stewart came a day after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austinissued a Department of Defense-wide memo stating he “will seek the President’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon the U.S. Food and Drug Agency (FDA licensure), whichever comes first.”

As of the current DoD numbers, 380,877 Army soldiers are fully vaccinated and 172,013 are partially vaccinated; 110,325 Marines are fully vaccinated and 15,510 are partially vaccinated; 285,858 Navy sailors are fully vaccinated and 22,342 are partially vaccinated; 284,882 Air Force airmen are fully vaccinated and 30,061 are partially vaccinated.