Renee Brincks
Renee Brincks

Alaska officials shared guidelines for phases three and four of the Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan on May 22, rolling back select restrictions implemented to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy and state public health officials introduced the Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan in late April. The five-phase strategy aims to curb the virus while enabling economic activity in communities across the state.

"Reopening Alaska's businesses is vital to the state's economic well-being, and to the ability of Alaskans to provide for their families," said an introduction to Alaska's Health Mandate 016, the plan segment implemented on April 24. "At the same time, everyone shares in the obligation to keep Alaska safe and continue to combat the spread of Covid-19. As a result, businesses and employees must, to the extent reasonably feasible, continue to take reasonable care to protect their staff and operations during this pandemic."

May 22 guidelines for phases three and four allow for the opening of businesses, museums, libraries, recreational activities and houses of worship. The state's reopening measures outline ongoing social distancing measures, cleaning and personal hygiene protocols, face mask use in close contact and other practices.

Officials will continue to monitor virus numbers and will adjust regional responses if clusters of new cases develop.

"It's the responsibility of individuals, businesses and organizations to minimize the spread of Covid-19," said a May 19 update on the state's Covid-19 website. "We encourage all to follow local, state, national and industry guidelines on ways to conduct business and activities safely."

Phases three and four continue to share specific social distancing and sanitizing protocols for restaurants, lodging properties, retailers, fishing charters and other Alaska businesses. Festivals, concerts and large public gatherings may only be scheduled after consultation with public health officials.

Alaska communities may also elect to keep some travel restrictions in place. 

As of May 20, interstate and intrastate travel guidance implemented earlier in the month remained in place. Outlined in Health Mandate 18, the rules allow for movement between communities located on the road system or the Marine Highway System. Off-road travel and trips taken off Marine Highway System ferries are prohibited, except in the case of critical personal needs or essential services.

On May 15, the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services also extended established guidelines for inbound travelers.  Individuals entering the state, including residents, visitors and nonessential workers, are required to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival.

Visitors and workers without an Alaska residence are instructed to go directly from the airport to their hotel room or rented lodging and stay for two full weeks. They are encouraged to watch for signs of fever, cough or shortness of breath, and may leave only for medical emergencies or to seek medical care.

The 14-day quarantine for interstate and international travel to Alaska will be reviewed weekly, and reevaluated by June 2.

In April, phase one of the Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan eased closures for some nonessential businesses, allowing openings at reduced capacity and with social distancing practices in place. On May 8, phase two allowed additional retail stores, restaurants, personal care businesses and offices to operate at a 50% capacity. Bars, theaters, libraries and gyms were opened at a 25% capacity, and restaurants and bars resumed walk-in service with some restrictions.

Phase five, which allows for normal business practices, will depend on disease activity, testing capacity, public health capacity and health care capacity.

Updates on Alaska's reopening plans are available through the Alaska Travel Industry Association website and on the state's Covid-19 Health Mandates page.

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