Governor eyes retail sector to open next

Governor eyes retail sector to open next

Dunleavy says plans for opening retail sector to come on Monday

State officials will discuss reopening the state’s retail sector over the weekend and present plans to the public on Monday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced at an Anchorage press conference Friday.

But when it comes to opening the state, the governor intends for Alaska to forge its own path.

“We’re going to look at Alaska almost as if it’s its own country,” Dunleavy said. “We’re going to be looking at what it takes to open certain sectors of the economy.”

He referenced data collected by the state as a guide for when and where to reopen the economy. Alaska has many small communities with unique needs and challenges, the governor said, and special arrangements could be made to meet those needs.

“We think that local leaders know their communities best,” Dunleavy said.

But the governor was vague about where authority would lie for municipalities to make decisions about their own mandates.

“We would have that conversation,” Dunleavy said when asked if a local government would be to enact more restrictive measures after state health mandates have been lifted.

If a community were to request a waiver from the state’s lifted restrictions, and that request was based in science, “at this stage of the game we would honor that request,” Dunleavy said.

Alaska is a diverse and complex state that required flexibility in how it reopens its economy, Dunleavy said.

However, the governor did not directly answer a question about requiring municipalities to obtain permission from the administration in order to enact stricter health mandates.

“There’s no precedent for a country to shut down its entire economy and then start it back up like it was asleep,” Dunleavy said. “Now that we understand this virus a little more and how it works, we can open things up and we can watch those numbers.”

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