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The Breakdown: Who can, who can't shop at AF Academy during COVID-19 crisis

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. --

Things have changed at the Air Force Academy as it and the rest of the world grapples with the COVID-19 global pandemic. Senior officials here recognize the need to prepare for the possibility of even more changes.

One very noticeable change at the Air Force Academy is the base has declared a public health emergency. For military base commanders across the world, making this declaration gives them the authority to make other adjustments to increase the security and safety of their installations.

Col. Brian Hartless – commander of the base’s host unit, the 10th Air Base Wing – closed the base to all but official business March 23, limiting access to those who work or live on the installation, or need medical or pharmacy services.

“This wasn’t a decision made lightly,” Hartless said. “Our mission to graduate leaders for our Air Force and Space Force has not stopped. I have an obligation to ensure the health and wellbeing of the men and women who support that mission, their families and the cadets who remain here."

Shopping on base is not considered official business. This has been met with some confusion and anger by those who, under normal circumstances, would be able to shop here.

“This temporary restriction, although inconvenient, is imperative to limit the number of people on the base,” Hartless said. “I understand this is not a popular decision, but it is the right decision needed to make our community safe during this crisis.”

Who Can Shop on Base

-- Personnel, including cadets, who live and-or work on the Academy and have shopping privileges

-- Dependent family members of service members who live on the Academy

-- Military service members who work on base but live off base can shop here, but their dependents cannot

-- Anyone who has shopping privileges and works at the Academy and is teleworking from off base during the COVID-19 crisis

Who Cannot Shop on Base

-- Dependents of military service members who work on base but live off base

-- Retired service members who don’t work or live on the base

Those coming to the base for an official on-base appointment or to pick up prescriptions are prohibited from detouring from that place of business to any other location on the base.

“This is a rapidly changing situation,” Hartless said. “I cannot promise there won’t be further restrictions. I ask for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this difficult situation.”

Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria acknowledged the measures taken to decrease the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“We all have to continue to work together and make sacrifices to protect the health of our personnel and the continued mission of the U.S. Air Force Academy," he said.

Visit https://www.usafa.af.mil/Coronavirus to read about other measures the base has taken during the COVID-19 global pandemic.