The City and Borough of Juneau announced on Monday it is lowering its community risk level. The move means masking will no longer be required inside indoor, public spaces. Currently, masks are required in city facilities, but a chance is expected in the near future, said Deputy City Manager Robert Barr. (Pam Menegakis / Unsplash)

The City and Borough of Juneau announced on Monday it is lowering its community risk level. The move means masking will no longer be required inside indoor, public spaces. Currently, masks are required in city facilities, but a chance is expected in the near future, said Deputy City Manager Robert Barr. (Pam Menegakis / Unsplash)

City lowers community risk level

Masks are recommended, but no longer required.

The City and Borough of Juneau on Monday lowered the community risk level to minimal.

With the change, masking is recommended in indoor public areas, but there is no broad masking requirement. City facilities still require masking, according to the city, but those policies are under review and modification of the policy is expected later this week, said deputy city manager Robert Barr. Additionally, private businesses may have their own masking requirements.

Barr said there are many favorable conditions that led to the risk-level change.

“There isn’t any one specific thing, but there are many things that are looking good,” Barr said. “Really, across the board all the indicators we look at are looking positive.”

Those included the number of cases, the ability to medevac people, the availability of high-quality masks, improving access to therapeutics for people who may be at increased risk, local vaccination rate and a reduction of people calling out sick in both the public and private sector were positives cited by Barr. The city has not been at a Level 1 risk level since summer 2021, according to city news releases.

KN95 masks, a type of mask that according to the CDC more effective than either cloth masks or surgical masks, are freely available in Juneau. A box of the masks can be picked up at the City Hall Cash Office, all Juneau Public Libraries, Juneau Public Health Center and Juneau Police Department, according to the city.

Free rapid home tests are available at those locations, too.

Under the new risk level, exemption requests for large indoor gatherings are not required, according to the city, but event-planners are still welcome to contact the CBJ Emergency Operations Center about COVID-19 best practices at covidquestions@juneau.org.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises wearing a mask in indoor spaces for those 2 or older who are in an area with a high COVID-19 Community Level and for those who are sick and need to be around others or are caring for someone with COVID-19. COVID-19 Community Level is a tool available on the CDC’s website that takes into account the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied and the total number of new COVID-19 cases over the past seven days within a community.

On Monday, the CDC listed Juneau’s COVID-19 Community Level as Medium.

People who are at an increased risk for severe illness, live with someone at higher risk or spend time with someone at a higher risk should talk to their health care provider about wearing a mask at medium COVID-19 community levels, according to the CDC. People who may be at increased risk and test positive should call their health care provider, Barr said.

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

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