Juneau won’t be enacting a local extension of a 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers.
After meeting with Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum and Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly voted 8-1 against a local requirement that would order travelers from outside the state to quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Juneau in light of a state mandate.
Assembly member Loren Jones was the lone vote in favor of a local quaramtine ordinance. Mayor Beth Weldon and Assembly members Maria Gladziszewski, Carole Triem, Alicia Hughes-Skandijs, Michelle Bonnet Hale, Greg Smith, Wade Bryson and Rob Edwardson voted against the emergency ordinance.
The vote came Wednesday night shortly after Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced updated guidance on the state mandate requiring out-of-state travelers to quarantine. Previously, the mandate was scheduled to expire on Friday, which led to the drafting of a local quarantine ordinance.
Instead of lifting the quarantine, as of 12:01 a.m. June 6, travelers will need to be tested within 72 hours of departure, may enter the state only upon showing a negative polymerase chain reaction test for COVID-19 and can’t enter the state if testing positive, according to the governor’s office.
A person may also provide negative results from within five days of departure, if they get tested again once arriving and limits interactions until the second test results are in, according to DHSS. All pre-tested travelers will receive a voucher for a second test that must be taken within one to two weeks of arrival.
Travelers who decline testing and are not a critical infrastructure workers must undergo a 14-day quarantine. Critical workforce personnel must follow their company’s community protective plan filed with the state.
People coming into the state may opt to be tested for COVID-19 on arrival and register with a testing site, but per the mandate they must quarantine at their own expense until the results are known and must isolate for duration of illness at their own expense if the results are positive.
Additionally, travelers who test upon arrival would receive a voucher for a second test that must occur within a week to two weeks of arrival and should minimize interactions until the second test yields negative results.
City Manager Rorie Watt asked Zink if his understanding that the mandate essentially preserves the state’s quarantine mandate while adding an “unless” for people who meet testing requirements was accurate.
“That’s exactly it,” Zink said. “The quarantine is still in place unless.”
Assembly members shared some concerns about Dunleavy’s plan, but said it ultimately preserved the quarantine and made a local extension generally unnecessary.
Municipal attorney Robert Palmer said the key difference between the proposed ordinance and the health mandate appeared to be that the mandate allowed for some testing exemptions. Palmer also cautioned that the new mandate was minutes-old at that point.
“The 14-day extension certainly has some problem areas, and the governor’s plan certainly has some holes in his plan,” Weldon said. “So we’re you’re dealt with two not-so-great choices, I would bow to what’s the most practical.”
She said opting for the governor’s mandate would make things as understandable as possible.
“This means that Juneauites, we just need to keep doing what we’re doing to keep ourselves safe,” Weldon said.
• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt