Officials at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada briefly closed the base to all non-mission essential personnel except those with medical needs Monday before deciding that move was unnecessary and reopening.

Nellis spokeswoman Rebekah Mattes said Tuesday morning that everyone who typically has access to the base, including retirees, can now get on to the base and access commissaries and other facilities they need, although some facilities, such as the gym, are giving priority to active-duty service members.

The restrictions went into place Monday morning, she said, and were lifted about noon.

During the brief period when Nellis was only open to mission-essential personnel and families, retirees were largely restricted from coming on base, a move intended to slow the spread of coronavirus amid a worldwide pandemic.. A post on Nellis’ official Facebook page yesterday said non-mission essential personnel were still being admitted for medical needs.

But that Facebook post sparked anger and frustration from some, particularly retirees, some of whom complained of feeling “belittled” and insulted by the move.

Mattes also said that, due to communication issues, there was a period of time Monday when retirees were turned away at the gate who should not have been. And some services at Nellis, such as the child development center, were only available to mission-essential personnel Monday, Mattes said.

In the Facebook post, Nellis said that the commissary was open to active-duty, Guard, and Reserve airmen and their families.

But the Nellis commissary is now open to all during normal business hours, Mattes said. Hours have been expanded for active-duty service members and their families, who are now allowed to shop at the commissary from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., its usual opening time, she said. Mattes said that is being re-evaluated each day to see if changes need to be made in response to the pandemic.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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