Leadership from the 86th Airlift Wing hosted their second virtual town hall March 23 in an ongoing effort to address concerns associated with the coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19.
One day prior, German authorities announced increased restrictions on social gatherings in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged citizens to reduce contact with people outside their own families to the absolute minimum.
Personnel assigned to Ramstein must abide by host nation laws, so to eliminate confusion and update the Ramstein community, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark R. August, 86th Airlift Wing commander, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Ernesto J. Rendon Jr., went live on Facebook to address concerns.
August began by assuring the audience that the airlift mission continues despite COVID-19.
“Our mission is in full force across every single group,” said August.
The commander listed a series of missions accomplished over the weekend, to include launching a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to Italy bringing badly-needed medical supplies in support of our allies.
August pointed out not only the importance of the mission, but also the Airmen and their families.
“Our job is to take care of Airmen and their families in addition to getting the mission done,” said August.
Rendon added that balancing mission with safety is our new normal for the time being.
“Stay informed, remain compliant, take care of yourself, take care of your family, take care of your teammates,” said Rendon.
After opening remarks, the command team responded to questions gathered from the Kaiserslautern Military Community and addressed the ongoing challenges associated with combating the pandemic and the importance of social distancing.
Below are some questions and answers from the virtual town hall. For a full list of FAQs, including ones that were not addressed live, visit https://www.ramstein.af.mil/COVID-19/.
For service members who are in-transit to our final destination, but are affected by stop movement here, is there any way that rooms on base can be opened up at zero cost to the member?
Unfortunately no. There is some great guidance on the financial front allowing certain entitlements to individuals during this unique time. Please visit https://www.ramstein.af.mil/COVID-19/ and view the Comptroller Policy Memo for more information.
Are space available opportunities to CONUS impacted?
All Space-A travel has been terminated, with one exception. If you are on emergency leave with non-funded travel approved, Space-A is available to you.
Any talks of relaxing hair regulations during this lockdown like the Navy did? Or will Air Force members be expected to maintain hair regulations from home?
With barbershops and hair salons closed, this is a topic of discussion. Guidance will be coming soon.
How does the “no more than two” rule affect mission essential offices?
Mission essential activities will remain open. Each leadership team knows exactly what it takes to run their operations. We will not dictate to them how many people they can have at work, however, we encourage the use of electronic means where possible.
Is it okay to run, walk or bike outdoors as long as we maintain social distance guidelines? What’s the advice for those of us living in stairwell housing on base without our own backyard?
Perfectly okay at this time. The good news is, it’s not lockdown. If you are out by yourself, or no more than two, then good-to-go to do those things.
Are there any positive cases on RAB?
Yes. Check https://www.ramstein.af.mil/COVID-19 for the most up-to-date number.
Is there a non-emergency number to call to report an American having a party off base?
If you have concerns dial 1-1-2. No one will prevent you from calling emergency services. We don’t need police efforts, what we really need is compliance. We need the Airmen to know why these guidelines are being pushed out. We are trying to lower the curve and reduce the spread of COVID-19 so it doesn’t outpace our medical capacity.
What about on-base policy when it comes to social distancing?
On base policy reflects that of the CDC and host nation. Maintain two-meter spacing and groups are to be no larger than two individuals unless residing in the same household.
Any updates on college dependents in the states getting here?
The U.S. Embassy is working on that specific issue. More information to come.
Will the commissary limit shoppers by assigning scheduled shopping days like what has been done in Korea? Will they limit one person per family shopping at a time?
The Mission Support Group commander continues to work closely with our DeCA team, exploring what options are available for us to continue to meet the needs of the community and help people remain protected. We ask that you make sure you are doing everything you can to help protect yourself.
Are there any plans for the Vehicle Control Center to stop sign-ins for visitors?
Not at this time.
Some information may change as the situation develops, please continue to check the site for the most up-to-date information. Visit the Ramstein homepage (www.ramstein.af.mil) and go to the COVID-19 tab at the upper right side of the page.