Anchorage is in the State's highest COVID-19 alert level, categorized by widespread community transmission with many undetected cases, and frequent, discrete outbreaks. There is significant concern since the municipality estimates it will exhaust hospital capacity by mid-September.
To fight positive test results that are increasing by triple digits daily, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz announced Anchorage will be tightening up restrictions on areas that are considered to be outbreak hotspots.
"Right now, we're in the greatest danger that we've been in," said Berkowitz. "We are looking at a serious threat to the public health of the people of Anchorage, the people of Alaska."
Berkowitz announced Emergency Order 15, which goes into effect on Monday, August 3 at 8 am to 11:59 pm on August 30.
The order prohibits indoor service at restaurants and breweries and limits outdoor service to tables kept at least 10 feet apart. Nightclubs and bars are closed except to provide takeout and delivery service.
Berkowitz says coronavirus is “particularly susceptible to spreading in those kinds of close environments where people aren’t able to stay masked, and where their social inhibitions might be relaxed a little bit.”
During the "four-week reset" period bingo parlors and theaters must remain closed, and indoor gatherings - including political and religious gatherings - must be limited to 15 or fewer participants.
Outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 or fewer participants, that number drops to 25 if food and drink are consumed. Masks and physical distancing of 6 feet will be required at all gatherings.
Gathering size limits do not apply to day cares or day camps; K-12 education facilities; farmers markets or food truck events where customers can maintain 6 feet of distance from others and there’s no on-site dining; or drive-in events where vehicles are spaced 6 feet apart (or 10 feet if singing is involved) and food, drinks or other items aren’t passed among vehicles.
The emergency order demands that employers “shall require employees to work from home when their work can be accomplished remotely without significantly impeding business operations.”
“We have entered a period of time where we know there is a COVID storm coming, and we hunkered down once. I think this is a time for us to batten down,” Mayor Berkowitz said Friday.
Indoor gatherings — including political and religious gatherings — must be limited to 15 or fewer people under the new order. No more than 25 people may be involved in an outdoor gathering where food and drink are consumed; other gatherings are limited to 50 or fewer people.
Masks and physical distancing of 6 feet will be required at all gatherings, including outdoor gatherings when it’s not possible to maintain 6 feet of distance from non-household members.
Berkowitz is looking to hire more compliance officers, who will inform businesses about compliance should Anchorage receive a complaint.
“But we do not live in a police state. Much of what we do, we count on people to do the right things,” Berkowitz said.
The Mayor also announced that school would not occur in classrooms for the first quarter in the Anchorage School District.