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TOKYO – The fun isn’t dead just because Japan-based US troops and their families are confined to their homes and facilities for the next couple of weeks and a half.
The Tama Hills Recreation Area golf course and trails are still open in western Tokyo. Dance lessons are planned at Yokosuka Naval Base in Kanagawa Prefecture. And maybe now is a good time to catch up on auto maintenance at the base auto hobby store.
“You can’t get out of the fence and do the kinds of activities and vacations that we wanted to do,” Brig. Gen. James B. Wellons, deputy commander of US forces in Japan, said Monday during a live stream on Facebook. “But we can come together as units; we can meet up with our friends who are also isolated here on the base.
The U.S. military population in Japan, which includes more than 50,000 servicemen, was ordered Monday to remain at their respective bases or in their homes off-base until January 24 to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus respiratory disease.
The order came after the Japanese government called the attention of U.S. authorities to the spread of COVID-19 cases in communities surrounding U.S. bases in Okinawa and near Hiroshima from mid-December.
During the temporary stay-at-home order, U.S. personnel may visit local communities only for essential services such as medical appointments or errands, or to run or cycle for exercise if they live. off the base.
Meanwhile, base commanders are reminding people that they still have the option to relax, although all activities require social distancing and the mandatory use of face masks, according to USFJ orders which also have increased health protection condition to Bravo on January 6. Bravo indicates an increased risk of the virus spreading.
At Yokota Air Force Base in western Tokyo, the Tomodachi Lanes bowling alley is open until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at the base theater, first-run movies like the latest “Scream” and ” Spiderman: No Way Home, ”play this weekend.
In Yokosuka, a ballroom dance workshop is scheduled for Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the base community center. Beginners can learn the basic steps for the waltz, tango and foxtrot for $ 40 per couple, according to the Basic Morale Welfare and Recreation.
In Okinawa, the Kadena Marina restaurant and Okuma Beach, both located off the base, are always available for staff. Okuma Beach offers food, surfing, and outdoor activities including golf, tennis, snorkeling, diving, wakeboarding, jet skiing, and kayaking.
“We are trying to keep the services open,” Brigadier-General David S. Eaglin, 18 Wing commander in Kadena, said during a live Facebook broadcast on Monday. “We have resources at your disposal. The idea is not to stay at home and go through it alone. There are opportunities on the base.