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Anchorage

Anchorage mayor anticipates next phase of reopening in the coming week ‘if metrics remain steady’

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Anchorage may initiate its next phase of reopening next week if current COVID-19 numbers hold, the mayor said Wednesday, saying that the city will continue its “slow and steady” strategy.

“If these metrics remain steady or show improvement by the end of the week, we anticipate being able to move forward to Phase 3: ‘Maintenance,’ starting next week,” Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said in a statement.

Details on what will be permitted in the municipality under the third phase were not immediately available.

Until that decision to move to Phase 3 is made, Anchorage will remain in Phase 2 and under an emergency order that limits restaurants and retail businesses to half their capacity, and gyms and bars to 25% of their capacity. Gatherings are limited to 50 people.

Berkowitz’s statement comes after Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the state of Alaska would lift most pandemic restrictions on businesses statewide beginning Friday — launching Phase 3 and 4 of the state’s reopening plan simultaneously.

Under the governor’s plan, bars, gyms, restaurants and theaters are allowed to open at full capacity on Friday. Physical distancing measures and continued rigorous hygiene are still encouraged. Certain restrictions on intrastate travel and elective medical procedures, as well as a mandatory 14-day quarantine for incoming travelers, remain in place under the governor’s plan. The governor is expected to release more details on Phase 3 and 4 on Thursday.

“As the Governor directly acknowledged, local communities are permitted to have stricter health restrictions tailored to their specific needs,” Berkowitz said in his statement.

A document outlining Anchorage’s reopening plan states that under Phase 3, schools and workplaces can open and gathering sizes may increase. Businesses can also open “with fewer restrictions,” Berkowitz said. The document does not spell out specifics on gathering sizes or capacity at bars, gyms, restaurants, retail stores, theaters or other businesses under Phase 3.

Physical distancing and hand-washing is still encouraged. The city’s plan notes that the municipality could “quickly rollback allowable activities” in case the city’s health metrics worsen.

The metrics that the Municipality of Anchorage uses as it moves from one phase to another include the number of positive cases, the ability to trace close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases, and Anchorage’s health care capacity.

The mayor is expected to hold a community briefing Friday, where more information will be available, the announcement said.

“Our strategy is ‘slow and steady,’” the mayor said. “It has been successful, and we’re sticking with that strategy because it has kept people safe.”

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