The Municipality of Anchorage on Saturday implemented more stringent pandemic-related restrictions for travelers from Outside than what the state of Alaska now requires, in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus in the state’s largest city.
Alaska on Saturday began allowing travelers from out of state to avoid a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 within a certain time frame. At the same time, the city of Anchorage imposed new rules to limit some travelers’ interactions with other people here — including not dining in at restaurants or visiting theaters — for two weeks unless they pass a secondary round of virus testing several days after arriving in Alaska.
Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz signed the emergency order that calls for those restrictions on Friday.
“One of the things that we’re most concerned about is the introduction of the coronavirus from outside sources,” Berkowitz said in a community briefing.
It was not immediately clear from either Anchorage’s announcement of the new rules or the emergency order itself how the city’s new policy might be enforced, or how travelers will be informed. Questions sent to the city were not answered by Saturday evening. The Anchorage emergency regulations remain in effect until they are modified.
Here’s a look at the key differences between what the state of Alaska and the Municipality of Anchorage now require:
1. For travelers who choose to test within 72 hours of boarding a plane to Alaska
Under the state’s updated health mandate on interstate travel, these individuals will need to present their negative results for a molecular-based COVID-19 test and traveler paperwork at the airport upon arrival in Alaska. They are also required to take another test seven to 14 days after arriving in the state, according to the state’s FAQ, and may receive a voucher to offset the cost of that test. They’ll need to “minimize interactions” until 14 days have passed since their arrival; until they test negative in the second COVID-19 test; or until they leave Alaska, whichever comes first.
The Municipality of Anchorage’s new rules go a step further, outlining more clearly what minimizing interactions would involve for people with negative results on a PCR test taken ahead of time. Under city rules, those travelers from out of state arriving in Anchorage may not dine in at restaurants or access indoor facilities like theaters, fitness centers or museums for 14 days. They can get takeout or curbside delivery and recreate outdoors, but they should minimize their interactions with others and may not visit indoor attractions that “involve heightened contact with other people," according to a statement from the city Friday night. They must also wear a face covering if they’re around people who aren’t members of their household.
To lift those city restrictions sooner, travelers would need negative results from a COVID-19 test taken at least seven days after they arrived in Alaska.
2. For travelers who choose to test within 5 days of boarding a plane to Alaska
Under state rules, these individuals will need to present their negative test results and traveler paperwork at the airport upon arrival in the state. They will then need to take a COVID-19 test at the airport and “minimize interactions” until that test result comes back negative. These travelers are also required to take another test (their third) seven to 14 days after arriving in the state, according to the state’s FAQ, and may receive a voucher to offset testing costs. Additionally, they must “minimize interactions” until 14 days have passed since they arrived; until they test negative in that final COVID-19 test; or until they leave Alaska, whichever comes first. Anyone who tests positive will need to isolate here at their own expense and won’t be allowed to travel until they’re cleared by state public health officials.
Under Anchorage city rules, after these individuals get tested at the airport, they will need to fully self-quarantine (as opposed to simply minimizing their interactions with others). If their airport test results come back negative, they can then move to a stage encompassing what the city described as minimizing interactions: takeout but no dine-in service at restaurants, outdoor recreation allowed, wearing face coverings, and no access to indoor facilities like theaters where they’d have contact with a lot of other people. That would continue for 14 days after their arrival in Alaska; to lift those restrictions sooner, they would need negative results from a COVID-19 test administered at least seven days after they arrived in the state.
3. For travelers to choose to test at the airport upon arrival in Alaska
The state says these individuals will need to take a COVID-19 test at the airport and “self-quarantine, at their own expense, while waiting for the test results.” They are also required to take another test seven to 14 days after arriving in the state, according to the state’s FAQ, and may receive a voucher to offset the cost of that test. They will need to minimize their interactions with others while waiting for that last test result.
Anchorage also says that after these individuals get tested at the airport, they will need to self-quarantine. However, city rules specify that if their test results come back negative, they will still need to abide by the new policy that doesn’t allow them to access indoor attractions where they would have contact with a lot of other people, in addition to making dine-in service at restaurants off-limits. (Outdoor recreation would still be permitted.) That would continue for 14 days after their arrival in Alaska; to lift those restrictions sooner, they would need negative results from a COVID-19 test administered at least seven days after they arrived in the state.
4. For travelers who choose to self-quarantine for 14 days
This remains the simplest option for travelers who aren’t able to get a test or don’t want to be tested for COVID-19. Anchorage’s new rules say that these individuals should head directly to the place where they’re quarantining, stay physically separated from others and use non-contact delivery to receive whatever goods or services they may need. The state’s requirement for testing seven to 14 days after arrival does not apply to those who choose to quarantine.
4. For critical workers
Workers in critical industries may follow guidelines included in COVID-19 community protection plans developed by their employer and approved by the state of Alaska. The Municipality of Anchorage will require that those workers “minimize in-person interactions outside of their workplace for 14 days after arriving in Anchorage," according to the city’s statement.
5. For anyone arriving in Anchorage within 14 days of their initial arrival in Alaska
Anchorage requires that these individuals “inform their hotel, rental lodging host, and/or roommates of their quarantine status or whether they are required to minimize in-person interactions,” the emergency order states. “Businesses may refuse to serve people who are in quarantine or minimal-interaction status."
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