Marine Forces Japan has returned to health protection condition “Charlie,” increasing restrictions on Marines in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19 after its recent return to Okinawa, Japan, the Corps announced.
Under the new restrictions that start Friday, Marines in Japan will not be allowed to use public transportation except for on-base taxis, will not be allowed to use nonessential off-base services, dine in at off-base restaurants or participate in physical activities off base, a press release from III Marine Expeditionary Force said Friday.
Marines are allowed to go off base for medical appointments, veterinary services, grocery shopping, banking, bill payment, gas/service stations, postal services and permanent change of station related activities ― along with grabbing take out or food from a drive-through restaurant, the press release said.
“The intent of these measures is to further reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus among our personnel and our Japanese neighbors by limiting movements and minimizing in-person interactions,” the release said.
“Several” positive tests aboard Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and Camp Hansen led both Marine bases to issue temporary shelter-in-place orders so those who tested positive could be sent to quarantine and start contact tracing on those they exposed, Marine Corps Times previously reported.
A day after Futenma issued its shelter-in-place order a Japanese man who lives near the airfield tested positive for the virus, Stars and Stripes reported.
Before July, COVID-19 had been all but eliminated from the island, with no local Okinawans testing positive for the virus since April 30.
But early July saw the resurgence of the virus on the island, both on and off the Marine installations.
In addition to Marines, the new restrictions also apply to dependents, contractors and other U.S. employees for Marine Forces Japan, the release said.