Air Force Cancels Liberty for Newly Graduated Airmen

oath of enlistment to graduating Airmen
A U.S. Air Force public affairs officer gives the oath of enlistment to graduating Airmen, March 6, 2020, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarayuth Pinthong)

Officials with the Air Force's Air Education and Training Command said Thursday they have suspended liberty leave off and on base for new Basic Military Training graduates.

"The trainees are no longer allowed off base or given base liberty," spokeswoman Marilyn Holliday told on Thursday. "They'll proceed to their tech training location on Saturday, the day after graduation."

Holliday explained recruits will not be given an opportunity to venture around the base and will return to their dorms with the expectation they will proceed to their respective tech school the following day. The base hosts 50 graduations per year, she said.

Officials made the call Wednesday, just one day after AETC announced it is suspending family-attended graduation events at BMT at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19.

Related: Air Force Blocks Families from Attending Recruit Training Graduations

BMT graduations occur weekly. Each class graduates the program following an eight-and-a-half week course.

"Each year, about 40,000 airmen march across the parade field with up to 7,000 family members in attendance each week for the momentous occasion," Maj. Gen. Andrea Tullos, 2nd Air Force commander, said in a release Tuesday. "Gatherings of this size increase the possibility that the virus could be transmitted to our training population.

"We realize families want to show support to their loved one and they will be disappointed they can't participate in the graduation events, but we have a responsibility to protect not only our airmen but those citizens they will come into contact with as they travel to their follow-on training locations," she added.

Lackland officials said they will monitor and discuss appropriate protocols with medical experts "to determine when guest attendance at graduation events will resume," the release states.

"This is a prudent decision to protect our people and the community in which we live and work," said Maj. Gen. John DeGoes, 59th Medical Wing commander. "Infectious diseases don't respect the fence line, and these actions make sense to protect us and our neighbors."

The U.S. Navy made a similar call earlier this week.

The service on Facebook said it is canceling all public recruit graduations at its boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois, out of an abundance of caution, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Recruit Training Command said liberty leave off-base is prohibited and new sailors will report directly to their follow-on assignments.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

Read more: Defense Department Orders 60-Day Troop Travel Ban for Virus-Afflicted Countries

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