On Friday, the Municipality of Anchorage updated two of its existing emergency orders as COVID-19 case counts continued to rise.
When do the orders take effect?
The updated orders take effect at 8 a.m. Monday, Nov. 9.
What are the new requirements for wearing masks?
The city eliminated some exemptions to the mask emergency order, saying it will make the requirement easier to enforce.
The order still requires that people wear masks or face coverings while inside in public places or outside at gatherings or when physical distancing isn’t possible.
Among the new provisions, people who cannot wear masks should now wear face shields, but if they cannot do so, they should instead use services like curbside pickup, delivery or takeout.
The updated mask order also lowers the age requirement for mask wearing without parent supervision, from 12 years old to 5 years old. Children under 2 do not need to wear a mask. Masks are now recommended — but not required — for children between 2 and 5 years old, including in day care settings for preschoolers.
Masks are also now required at gyms and fitness facilities for everyone at all times, except during swimming or diving activities.
What are the new limits on gatherings?
Gatherings — or as the city describes them, “meetings or other events that bring together people from multiple households at the same time for a shared or group experience in a single room, space or place such as auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference, meeting hall, or other indoor or outdoor space” — now have more limitations.
Indoor gatherings are now limited to 10 people in a single space if there’s food or drink involved. However, if no one is eating or drinking, indoor gatherings can have as many as 15 people. Previously, all indoor gatherings were limited to 30 people.
Outdoor gatherings serving food and drink must be capped at 20 people — previously, 50 folks were allowed — and groups without food or drink are limited to 30, previously 100.
There are, however, quite a few exceptions still. Just like the last version, farmers markets and food truck events are exempt. Drive-in events are also exempt from the order, provided that nothing like food or drinks are being passed between cars.
How do the new gathering limits apply to schools, churches and sports?
Now, kindergarten through 12th grade schools must limit capacity to 50% of the classroom’s fire code capacity. That means if a classroom has a fire code capacity of 50 people, only 25 are allowed inside at once. (A spokesman said the Anchorage School District is confident the new restrictions won’t disrupt plans to bring some students back into classrooms later this month.) Day cares and day camps are still exempt from the gathering limitations.
Places of political expression and worship are not subject to the indoor or outdoor gathering limitations, as long as people aren’t consuming food or drinks. But they do have to stick with a 50% capacity limit, and everyone needs to be masked and distanced.
The new order specifies that gathering limitations do not extend to organized sports practices, but it does state that spectators are not allowed unless the total group, including coaches, doesn’t exceed the city’s gathering limitations.
And masks are required at all times, except during vigorous outdoor exercise or while swimming.
Indoor shopping events like holiday bazaars are also exempt from the gathering limitation, but have their own set of restrictions.
What’s staying the same?
The order still asks that people limit the time they spend around others who aren’t part of their households and to keep up physically distancing and wearing masks when they’re around people they don’t live with.
The order also still asks that people who are at a high risk of complications from COVID-19 and people who live with high-risk individuals take even more stringent precautions.
And people who might be contagious with COVID-19 — travelers, people with symptoms of the illness, people with recent positive test results and those who have been asked to quarantine — must minimize how much contact they have with others.
Orders for retail businesses as well as hotels, bars, restaurants and pubs will stay the same.