Last week, Anchorage Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson announced a new emergency order closing Anchorage’s bars and restaurants to in-house service and limiting access to many public-facing businesses.
The order takes effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday and will remain in place through the month of December. It will be the third time during the pandemic that indoor service in bars and restaurants has been banned, following the spring’s original hunker-down order issued by former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and temporary restrictions under a “four-week reset” in August.
Here’s a look at the new restrictions, which are set to expire at 8 a.m. Jan. 1 unless further action is taken.
Under the new order, gathering sizes are further limited. Indoor gatherings will be capped at six people and outdoor gatherings at 10 people. (Prior to Emergency Order 16 taking effect, indoor gatherings where there is food and drink consumed were limited to 10 people, or 15 without food or drink, and outdoor gatherings were limited to 20 people with food or drink and 30 without.)
Gatherings remain defined as an event that brings people from multiple households into one space.
Under the new restrictions, weddings and funerals without food or drink will be capped at 20 people. Weddings and funerals with food and drink will be subject to the general gathering size restrictions — so, six inside or 10 outside.
The new capacity restrictions don’t apply to something like a drive-in event where people remain in their own vehicles.
The new emergency order also won’t further restrict events of religious or political expression. Those gatherings are limited to 50% of a building’s capacity as outlined in fire code, and all participants are required to wear masks and stay physically distanced from people of other households.
Restaurants and bars
Starting Tuesday morning, bars and restaurants can no longer provide any indoor services. They will be allowed to provide takeout and delivery, or seat people outside.
Outdoor dining is limited to table service, meaning patrons cannot stand or sit up at a bar. Tables must be at least 10 feet apart, and groups bigger than six people aren’t permitted at a single table unless it’s a single household group with children. Dining in tents is permitted as long as half of the walled space is rolled up to allow for ventilation.
Gyms and sports
Organized sports will be subject to several new regulations. Most notably, indoor competition between teams is now banned. Masks must also be worn at all times, including outside. The only exception is for watersports.
Indoor practice is only allowed if participants can remain 10 feet apart from one another.
Under the previous order, tournaments including teams from outside the municipality were banned. Starting Tuesday, no tournaments can take place within the municipality.
Gyms and fitness centers will also go from 50% capacity to 25% capacity. Right now, people exercising in gyms must maintain 6 feet of distance. Starting Tuesday, that will increase to 10 feet, and everyone in gyms will still have to wear a mask at all times, unless they are swimming.
Salons and other personal care businesses
Personal care businesses, such as salons and tattoo parlors, will see increased regulation and will be limited to 25% of the building’s fire code capacity. Right now, there are no capacity restrictions on these businesses, but there is a requirement that customer chairs, tables or workspaces need to keep people 6 feet or more apart.
Services that require the removal of a mask, such as a facial or beard trim, will be banned starting Tuesday morning.
While some updates to the orders regarding child care may still come from the city, facilities should keep kids in separate groups to prevent mixing and groups shouldn’t exceed 20 children. Staff, however, can move between groups if they wash their hands and disinfect spaces.
Children should be screened every day through temperature checks while staff and families must report known exposures of COVID-19 or individuals in their families who test positive.
Retail and shopping
While retail stores and public-facing businesses are encouraged to make curbside, online and entryway service a priority, they’ll also be limited to a quarter of the building occupancy. The businesses must also make sure there’s enough room for people to spread out at least 6 feet apart. Businesses are also encouraged to prioritize making time for high-risk populations to shop.
Indoor shopping events, like craft fairs and bazaars, are encouraged to go virtual or transition to a low-contact method of delivery. Organizers should also consider possibly holding the events outside but with continued mask and distancing requirements.
Otherwise, indoor events are subject to existing orders, which include a limit on events to 25% of the building’s occupancy and events may not exceed 100 people among shoppers, employees and vendors. Food and drink cannot be consumed and masks are required.
Additionally, bingo halls, private clubs, bowling alleys and arcades must close.
Hotel management has to “regularly inform” their employees as well as local health officials whether they’re housing people in quarantine or isolation. Employees are expected to keep names of people with COVID-19 confidential.
Remote work and communication with employees
Businesses are required to tell their employees and local health departments about a known or probable COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. They should help in letting customers and clients know about the exposure as well.
Remote work is required when it can be done without a significant impediment to the business’s operation. And employers may not allow employees with symptoms or those who might be contagious to go into the workplace or work outside of their homes.