The academy on Monday will lift the “official business only” restriction, which was put in place March 23 and only allowed access to people who work or live on the installation or who needed medical services.
This means that people with Defense Department ID cards will once again be able to enter the academy, the school said in a Thursday release. Some services and morale, welfare and recreation activities will still be limited or operate under restrictions as part of this phased reopening.
However, the academy will remain closed to non-DoD visitors. And anyone entering the academy or using any service must wear a face mask or cloth face covering in public, and keep a social distance of six feet from others.
“We continually assess what we can reopen while keeping our community safe,” said Col. Brian Hartless, commander of the 10th Air Base Wing, the academy’s host unit. “We’re moving ahead cautiously just like the state of Colorado, the Colorado Springs community we live in, and the other military installations on the Front Range, while bearing in mind that we remain in a public health emergency.”
Beginning on Monday, the academy will partially open its outdoor recreation rental office, arts and crafts studio, auto skills shop, Farish Recreation Center and Famcamp family camping center.
But there will be restrictions. For example, the outdoor recreation office will be open only for equipment rentals and reservations must be done over the phone or online. The arts and crafts center will also be open primarily for picking up and dropping off orders, and its studios can be reopened only by appointment.
Famcamp will have 60 RV spots and 20 camp sites open for those who have existing reservations and for personnel making permanent changes of station to or from the academy. Bathrooms and showers at the camping center will remain closed.
Farish Recreation Center will open for camping, but by reservation only, and common showers and restrooms will remain closed. Staff and patrons will be required to wear face masks and follow social distancing procedures.
The 10th Medical Group earlier this week opened all surgical and medical specialty clinics for personal appointments such as women’s health, allergy and immunizations, dermatology, neurology, physicals, occupational therapy, and eye care. The dental clinic is only open for emergencies.
The academy said that shopping at the base exchange and commissary is open to all beneficiaries, though restricted to just those who work or live at the academy from opening until noon each day.
Also, the Eisenhower Golf Course reopened May 1, though its tavern and snack bar remain closed. The equestrian center remains open to care for boarded horses, and its rental office will open normal hours for trail rides, made by reservation only.
And fishing ponds, hiking and biking trails are reopened for DoD beneficiaries.
Hartless said that these incremental steps to reopen the academy are based on the continued decrease in coronavirus cases treated in Colorado. However, the public health emergency and Health Protection Condition Charlie guidelines remain in place, and will not be lifted anytime soon, he said.
“We’re prepared to be in this posture for the next year,” Hartless said. “This is something we’re grappling with. Just like every other university in the U.S., and U.S. military installations across the world, there are unknowns we have to prepare for.”
“Any decisions we make will continue to be based on the health of our local military community and the health of El Paso County,” Hartless said.
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 Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.