DIEGO GARCIA, BRITISH INDIAN OCEAN TERRITORY
U.S. Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia’s galley implemented new procedures March 17 for service members and civilians to receive food as a precautionary measure amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
These procedures have been deemed necessary as COVID-19 has continued to spread around the world and has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
“The galley dining area, food preparation area, and staff members are a critical component on this island to help stop the coronavirus,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Carlos Solinap, NSF food services officer.
Patrons of the galley, named the Seven Degrees South Café, are required to wash their hands before entering the service line and will now maintain a six foot social distance while waiting in line. Markers have been placed on the floor to facilitate this. There is now only one serving line, and there is no longer self-service for the salad bar. Additionally, only eight people will be allowed to sit at a table at a time.
These procedures are mainly precautionary, as there have not been any confirmed cases of COVID-19 on island.
“I think what we all really need to remember, as a lot of people are being inconvenienced and life gets a little more challenging, is that we’re really doing this to protect the vulnerable [older contractors and civilians] in our population,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Bidlack, the senior medical officer for Diego Garcia Branch Health Clinic.
NSF Diego Garcia and tenant commands on the island have increased safety precautions over the last month as news of the spread and directives from Navy leadership have continued to be received.
The commands on Diego Garcia are following guidelines set by the NAVADMIN 064/20 and 065/20 Navy Mitigation Measure in response to the corona virus outbreak.
COVID-19 has quickly spread globally, after first being detected in China, affecting 150 international locations, including 7,038 cases in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control.
NSF Diego Garcia provides logistic, service, recreational and administrative support to U.S. and Allied Forces forward deployed to the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf.