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What changes (and what doesn’t) in Anchorage’s new emergency order removing capacity limits at businesses

Mike Auza prepares for the day's takeout orders after Rustic Goat opened on December 29, 2020. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Starting at 8 a.m. Monday, Anchorage will further lift certain pandemic restrictions across the municipality, but the core virus prevention measures — like requirements to wear a mask and stay a minimum of six feet from others — will stay in place.

The move comes as the number of Anchorage residents who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 grows and recent case counts continue to plateau. Health officials this week stressed that the city isn’t out of the woods yet, but some members of its most vulnerable populations are now inoculated against the virus.

Confused about what’s changing? Here’s a guide to help you out.

Masks and social distancing

One of the most prominent parts of the city’s COVID-19 response that remains unchanged is its mask mandate.

That means:

• Everyone should limit physical contact with people they do not live with and stay 6 feet apart.

• Those in Anchorage, especially people who have yet to be vaccinated, should avoid indoor spaces outside their home and should instead prioritize curbside and delivery services.

• Face masks are still required based on a previous emergency order. People must wear masks that cover their nose and mouth in indoor public places, outside when either at a gathering or when it’s not possible to stay 6 feet from people outside of your household.


The city more than doubled the number of people allowed at gatherings, both outdoors and indoors, in the new order.

Indoor gatherings with food or drink, previously limited to 10 people, will instead be limited to 25 people. Without food or drink, indoor gatherings can include up to 35 people (up from 15).

For outdoor gatherings where people are eating or drinking, as many as 60 people may attend, up from a previous limit of 30. And outdoor gatherings without food and drink can have as many as 100 people, previously limited to 50.

The gathering limitation exempts certain classroom, drive-in, substance abuse counseling, political and religious gatherings. Those details can be found in the municipality’s Attachment I.

Out-of-state travel

While a statewide mandate that required people coming into the state get tested before arrival expired last month, the municipality is still strongly encouraging that travelers keep up the practice when arriving in Anchorage.

Restaurants and bars

Despite removing capacity restrictions for bars and restaurants, establishments are still required to comply with a social distancing requirement in the new order. Only table service is allowed and those tables should be spaced enough to allow for at least 6 feet of distance between parties and staff.

No group larger than six people can sit at one table (unless a family with kids contains more than six people).

Live music and performances are allowed but must be at a low enough volume for people inside the establishment to communicate without shouting. And, indoor dancing is still prohibited, but outdoor dancing when people are wearing masks and dancing within their group is allowed.

The in-depth restaurant, bar, nightclub and brewery requirements can be found in Attachment D.


Anchorage issued updated requirements for organized sports that allow for two spectators per athlete to attend indoor events if social distancing is maintained. Spectators are also allowed at outdoor events but they must be spaced at least 6 feet apart.

Both indoors and outdoors, mask are required at all times, for everyone in attendance as well as for coaches, players and athletes (with the exception of water activities and high-intensity indoor sports where athletes can be 10 feet apart).

Teams must designate one person to enforce mask and physical distancing requirements.

Generally speaking, competitions between Anchorage-based teams may be held if teams have COVID-19 mitigations in place.

Competitions with teams from outside of Anchorage are permitted in the city, but all teams — whether from Anchorage or another part of the state — must complete pre-competition COVID-19 testing, which can be done through a variety of methods outlined in Attachment E.

Organized sports teams from Anchorage are also allowed to compete outside the municipality if all participants complete pre-competition testing.

Gyms and fitness

Masks should be worn at all times in gyms, save for during swim and dive activities. People should be spread out by 6 feet, and if gyms are keeping people 10 feet apart they should continue to do so. The rest of the requirements for gyms, fitness studios and pools can be found in Attachment F.


Entertainment venues in Anchorage like theaters, bingo halls, bowling alleys and escape rooms can operate at full capacity as long as both customers and staff can stay at least 6 feet apart. The establishments are encouraged to keep people 10 feet apart during physical activity. The rest of the guidelines are outlined in Attachment H.

Personal care

While personal care facilities are no longer restricted to a 50% capacity limit, they still have to make sure customers are 6 feet from others. Customers should also be screened for recent travel and illness when making appointments.

Businesses can also now provide services like beard trimming when someone needs to take their mask off, but masks can only be off for a total of 10 minutes. The updated requirements are in Attachment G.

Working remotely

Businesses in the municipality still have to require employees to work from home when it can be done without impeding the business.