I will tell you the headquarters remains COVID-free, and our number one priority is health of the force and protection of our people," said LANDCOM's Commander, U.S. Army Lieutenant General J.T. Thomson. "We have not had any cases in the headquarters among our military, civilians, [or] contractors.
LANDCOM is slowly moving toward full operational status under what has been termed the "new normal." It will be executed according to a deliberate, tiered plan over the next weeks and into the summer months. Part of this process includes managing the personnel transition as staff members prepare to depart and new members arrive to the headquarters as they, too, will be subject Turkey's national guidelines.
LANDCOM's Turkish host nation representative, Colonel Hakan Demirel, provided an update on coronavirus restrictions in Izmir.
"Last Monday, Turkey started to ease some measures and reopen some shops," he said, citing there was still social distancing and protection measures in place. "All assessments will be done on a weekly basis" to determine how much restrictions can be eased. "Curfew will be over after the first of June… and the borders will be reopened the 15th of June," said Colonel Demriel, hinting that travel will resume around that same time. He went on to explain restaurants, museums, and other gathering places will also be opened at reduced capacity after June 1.
LANDCOM Senior Medical Advisor Dr. (German Army Lieutenant Colonel) Chris Vogl gave a short medical update.
"Since our last check we have left the first wave of corona pandemic behind, and despite the high numbers in Turkey and Europe and other parts of the globe, high numbers of severe cases and even deaths, our LANDCOM community has been spared," alluding to the fact LANDCOM had applied the correction force health protection measures and was consistent about enforcement. "The next step is to maintain the slow level of transmission as we have today [in Turkey]," he said, emphasizing the need to remain patient over the next three weeks as Turkey begins to reopen.
Louise Cripwell, wife to LANDCOM's Deputy Commander, British Army Lieutenant General Richard Cripwell, joined the meeting London and had a question about restrictions once the borders open up.
"If the borders look like they might be reopening on June the 15th, does that mean that the two week quarantine period disappears?" she asked, referring to Turkey's current quarantine policy for anyone traveling into Turkey by air.
"No," said Colonel Demirel, "according to the current plan the quarantine is still on," he said.
Lieutenant General Thomson expanded on that answer.
"The short answer is, we don't know," he said, citing Turkey's restrictions are evolving weekly and may change significantly by June as Turkey assesses the situation further.
For the latest information on LANDCOM's approach to mitigating the virus threat, including what to do in suspected cases and up to date information on current restrictions here in Turkey, visit: https://lc.nato.int/covid19