FORT BLISS, Texas (KTSM) — Fort Bliss held a virtual town hall Thursday night to discuss COVID-19, facilities status and updating the community on current precautions.
The current ‘Come to Work Safe, Live Safe Order’ went into effect on March 9, 2021. Under that order, all service members, individuals subject to orders, Department of Defense personnel, and those stationed, attached to on or off-post, must follow the order.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen Sean Bernabe said it was the main priority to vaccinate the community of Fort Bliss, especially as hundreds of vaccine appointments are going unused. Officials said this was crucial to the efforts preventing COVID-19 transmission as well as reducing restrictions.
Under the post’s ‘Come to Work Safe, Work Safe Order’, masks are required within Fort Bliss, training facilities, during performance of official duty, and both on or off duty, on or off post.
Off-post restaurant dine-in eating is also prohibited, which has caused concern for many Fort Bliss families, especially those who live off post.
“Its’ difficult especially for us who live off post because it means that we need to drive all the way on post to have dinner with our families and also because sometimes you do want to support people around you and you can’t do that cause you need to follow orders,” a Fort Bliss spouse told KTSM.
According to Fort Bliss’s order, bars and restaurants that offer outdoor seating are also prohibited but they can use delivery or curbside methods.
Non-service household members are encouraged to follow the orders as well.
Officials addressed the concerns during the town hall.
“Right now in El Paso they are allowed to have 100-percent occupancy, here on Fort Bliss it’s only 50-percent occupancy, therefore reducing transmission rate,” Col. Staurt James said.
Bernabe also said Fort Bliss community members could continue visiting El Paso facilities open to the public such as the El Paso Zoo or bowling alleys, but they can’t eat at those facilities’ restaurants.
“The challenge is if you want to go to one of those places and go to their restaurant and eat in their restaurant, or sit in their bar that is a violation,” Bernabe said.
He said the goal was to lift that restriction once 50% of the Fort Bliss community was vaccinated.
Currently, out of 105,000 soldiers, civilians, dependents and other Fort Bliss members, 23% have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
On-post restaurants are operating at 50% capacity for now. Officials said they wanted to open pools soon and other facilities on-post for use. The next set of restrictions would happen when 33% of the Fort Bliss community is vaccinated.