Alaska News

20 or fewer: Alaska officials allow small gatherings with social distancing

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State officials on Friday announced the lifting of a stay-home requirement and looser restrictions on religious and social gatherings held in Alaska as part of the first phase of the state’s economic recovery plan for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Previously, public and private gatherings of people from different households were prohibited by the state, which also told people to stay at home as much as possible. Under the new guidelines, indoor gatherings can include up to 20 people, or 25% of the building’s maximum occupancy, whichever is less. Outdoor gatherings have a 20-person limit, according to the guidelines, which took effect Friday.

“Moving toward, these opportunities of reopening businesses and groups getting together is something that’s good for the state,” Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum said.

All participants at social or religious gatherings are encouraged to wear face coverings and stay 6 feet apart from people they don’t live with. If people are singing or otherwise projecting their voice, the minimum distance is 10 feet.

The same regulations apply to church services, weddings, funerals and other gatherings, such as fundraisers and political events.

Organizers of events in a building open to the public and indoor religious services will need to make handwashing and hand sanitizer available and sanitize frequent touchpoints hourly, in addition to developing a COVID-19 mitigation plan to protect all people involved. Those hosting indoor religious services should also “establish protocols for sacrament, communion, or collecting offering with minimal handling of the offering plate and money and proper sanitization of hands and disinfecting of surfaces.”

[Anchorage Mayor Berkowitz unveils plan to reopen businesses Monday]


[Alaska is reopening for business far ahead of widespread COVID-19 testing]

The announcement was made during a public address in which Gov. Mike Dunleavy talked further about how the state would move forward, encouraging people to leave their homes and patronize local businesses.

Two additional people tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, including an Anchorage resident and a Chugiak resident, the state health department said in a statement Friday.

The cases announced Friday reflect the number of positive test results received by the state Thursday. Cases are announced by permanent residency and don’t necessarily reflect where a person is while sick.

There are 208 people who have recovered from the virus, of 339 total cases statewide. There weren’t any new hospitalizations or deaths announced by the state Friday.

So far, the state has received 11,942 COVID-19 test results. Of those tests, 2.8% have come back positive.

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Aubrey Wieber

Aubrey Wieber covers Anchorage city government, politics and general assignments for the Daily News. He previously covered the Oregon Legislature for the Salem Reporter, was a reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune and Bend Bulletin, and was a reporter and editor at the Post Register in Idaho Falls. Contact him at

Morgan Krakow

Morgan Krakow covers education and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. Before joining the ADN, she interned for The Washington Post. Contact her at