Communities connected by road or ferry are no longer allowed to restrict travel or impose mandatory quarantines for arrivals from within Alaska.
That’s according the latest health mandate announced Tuesday by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
“In reviewing all health mandates, monitoring the evolving COVID-19 case data, and acknowledging the need for clarity, I am easing the restrictions on intrastate travel on the road system and communities serviced by AMHS by issuing COVID-19 Health Mandate 18,” Dunleavy said in a statement.
A number of smaller communities had been granted leeway to craft more stringent travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
But this latest health mandate narrows that exemption to exclude communities that receive ferry service. For the Southeast village of Angoon, that means it can no longer enforce a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
“We can’t override the state mandates,” Angoon City Clerk Albert Kookesh III said Wednesday. “So when the state opened up the community it kind of opened up everything,”
New arrivals had been required to stay home for two weeks. That also included anyone else in their household or anyone they came into contact with.
“If somebody gave you a ride from the ferry to your house,” he explained, “then they automatically would have to do the quarantine also.”
He says the city council was to consider lifting its order later this week. The governor’s mandate made that decision for them a few days early — and it’s been welcomed by some — though the recent pair of positive cases in Juneau are also alarming.
“I think people are happy to get out and get back to Juneau to go shopping themselves and maybe getting some fast food,” he said. “But I think there’s still some apprehension on whether or not people want to fully risk it.”
On Kupreanof Island, Kake’s city council recently relaxed its hunker down order. But its quarantine order had been in place until the governor’s mandate reversed it.
Kake Mayor Lloyd Davis says the city has been proactive: even visiting workers that fell under the critical infrastructure exemption have been bringing in their own food and supplies and don’t shop in town.
“They understand what we’re trying to do to keep this virus out of a small community,” Davis said Wednesday, “because we know that the impacts could be huge if we had one case show up in a small community like ours.”
He says he hopes visitors will continue to respect these precautions even without a local order in place.
Communities off the road system that aren’t connected by state ferries will still be allowed to impose their own COVID-19 related travel restrictions.