Can I Travel There?

It is 9pm on the Thursday before Labor Day Weekend, and I’m staring at a full inbox of fans that want to know if they can travel. With the weather being great this weekend and people suffering from lockdown fatigue, everyone wants to break loose this weekend. However, everyone wants to know if they can travel, and where? In a time where guidance seems so ambiguous, I hope to shed light on the guidance we’ve followed and why we chose to cancel our trip to Switzerland. Hopefully, I won’t make you more confused.

Here is the disclaimer. Nellie and I have independently created Kaiserslautern Day Tripper and Ollie and Nellie Explore, and are not sanctioned or sponsored by any of the United States uniformed services. We can only offer our best advice, but that is about it. Writing this post to the Kaiserslautern Military Community is difficult, as there are multiple services and guidelines in the KMC area. We just hope by writing this post, we can help you in the decision-making process.

For those living in the KMC area, the services generally agree on three things:

#1. Your travel destination is not listed as high risk by the Robert Koch Institute.

https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Risikogebiete_neu.html

#2. You keep within the travel guidelines within the European Union website Reopen EU.

https://reopen.europa.eu/en

#3. You follow your local unit leave and pass policies.

The problem we get from almost everyone that messages us, is they have only fulfilled requirements #1 and #2. How about #3, which is probably the most important step of all? Almost every unit from all services require a supervisor and Commander to sign off on a leave or pass form for out of country travel. Has your supervisor and / or Commander signed off on your out-of-country pass form, or are you just too comfortable with breaking the rules?

In addition to requiring unit documentation for travel outside of Germany, some units have made travel more restrictive to servicemembers. For example, we fall under the jurisdiction of the Commander of 21st Special Troops Battalion, 21st Theater Sustainment Command (Army). Our local Commander has made leisure travel more restrictive by requiring an exception to policy for those traveling to areas declared “red” by EUCOM for official travel. Although the EUCOM map is CAC enabled, a Google User regularly keeps it updated, which you can see by clicking here.

So, as of September 3, 2020, Switzerland and Austria are not high risk according to Robert Koch Institute, but EUCOM has declared it “red” for official travel. Our local commander has decided to extend the official travel restriction to leisure travel, which is why we are not going to Switzerland.

So before you crank up the car and decide to travel, here is what you have to ask yourself:

Does host nation and service requirements (#1 and #2) allow me to travel?

If uniformed service, does my local command policy restrict my travel (#3)?

Do I have a signed leave or pass form since I am traveling out of country (also #3)?

If you cannot positively answer #3, then you probably shouldn’t travel. If you are a uniformed member and still chose to travel, then you need to ask yourself, “What is my career worth?” If the country becomes high-risk before your return to Germany, can you explain to your Commander why you have to quarantaine for 14 days? If you become infected with COVID-19, will you have to lie to a trace team to save your career?

For Nellie and I, the €300 we put into our trip was not worth a career risk, especially being near retirement eligible. We could not positively answer #3 because our local Commander (well within his right) chose to be more restrictive. Switzerland won’t be “red” forever, and there are plenty of things to do in Germany.

We enjoyed the travel we did take this summer. We haven’t even had time to blog about our trip to Paris, Venice, Lake Garda, and the Garmisch sequel. We’ve been blessed beyond measure, and are okay with taking it easy this weekend. So this weekend, we are going to bike the Rhine, see another cute village, and watch Week 1 of college football. I hope you have a wonderful and safe Labor Day Weekend. You deserve it!