This article was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
WASHINGTON — The Navy on Friday night time abruptly shut down the church, faculties, fitness center and most locations the place individuals congregate at its base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, returning to the strict restrictions it had imposed earlier within the coronavirus pandemic.
The base was “awaiting results from tests sent off site,” a spokeswoman, Nikki L. Maxwell, stated Saturday night time. She declined to say what number of residents have been suspected of being contaminated by the coronavirus on the base of 6,000 residents. The army usually declines to reveal an infection figures at particular websites however has made exceptions within the Pacific.
On Thursday, base officers closed the Bayview fine-dining restaurant within the officers’ membership complicated, citing “some key staff feeling under the weather,” though Ms. Maxwell stated these sicknesses have been unrelated to the virus. The subsequent night time, the bottom well being division introduced that “as an extra precautionary measure,” it was imposing a safety degree of Charlie, which the army defines as signifying the chance of “sustained community transmission” within the pandemic.
Base notices reminded residents to remain at house and to name the hospital slightly than go there “if you feel sick, have a fever, cough or experience any shortness of breath.”
By Saturday, base officers had closed the college for the sailors’ youngsters, gyms for jail guards and different residents, the church complicated, the barbershop, ball fields and swimming swimming pools and have been requiring eating places to supply solely takeout. The commissary remained open, with customers restricted in quantity.
The base is a 45-square-mile outpost in southeast Cuba, with a small neighborhood hospital and restricted well being care amenities. While the army has stated the bottom has some coronavirus rapid-testing capability, Guantánamo has persistently despatched samples to the mainland United States for extra complete testing.
The restrictions recalled these in March, the earliest months of the pandemic, when the army imposed strict limitations after a sailor coming back from go away turned sick, examined optimistic for the virus and was put underneath quarantine. Soon after, officers adopted a coverage of not disclosing the variety of circumstances of the virus on the bottom, if any.
Diving within the bay, a favourite pastime on lengthy vacation weekends such because the one previous Columbus Day, which is noticed on Monday, was additionally canceled, as was a 5-kilometer run on Saturday morning celebrating the 244th birthday of the U.S. Navy, a neighborhood custom.
“I understand this is a challenging situation for everyone here,” significantly given the vacation weekend, the bottom commander, Capt. John A. Fischer of the Navy stated in an open letter to residents Saturday night time. “Please use this off-duty time to rest and recharge safely.”
Hundreds of troops and Navy households have arrived on the base all through the pandemic and have spent their first two weeks in quarantine as a protecting measure.
Most of the estimated 240 college students on the bottom had returned to the classroom final month for the primary time since early spring. Over the weekend, the college instructed households it will revert to distant studying, with elementary courses delayed till Wednesday.
The pandemic has brought on the cancellation of what was anticipated to be a busy 12 months of conflict crimes proceedings at Guantánamo. The final listening to was held in late February, partly due to the complication of making an attempt to handle the quarantining of a planeload of court docket personnel who commute from throughout the United States to every listening to. A small personnel from the Office of Military Commissions is predicted to journey there Tuesday.
No protection legal professionals have visited the 40 wartime prisoners through the pandemic, though some have communicated by means of military-supervised video or phone calls. The pandemic has additionally led the International Red Cross to cancel two commonly scheduled quarterly visits, contributing to the isolation of the outpost.