Peter Segall | Juneau Empire                                 A sign hangs in the window of a business on south Franklin Street on April 14.

Peter Segall | Juneau Empire A sign hangs in the window of a business on south Franklin Street on April 14.

Limited business reopening to begin Friday

Dunleavy says restaurants, salons and others can resume this week

Restaurants and hairdressers, among other non-essential businesses, may open as early as Friday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced Tuesday at a press conference in Anchorage.

“We’re always going to put health first, we feel we can begin Phase 1 of our opening process,” Dunleavy said.

Businesses allowed to reopen will have to follow certain guidelines for maintaining social distancing and maintaining hygiene, Dunleavy said, and Alaskans should still adhere to health measures, including distancing and face masks.

“We have to ask Alaskans to do what they have done for the past six weeks,” Dunleavy said. “If we can work with that, then we help keep this virus at bay.”

Restaurants will be allowed to reopen, but not at full capacity. Dine-in service will be limited to 25% of a restaurant’s capacity, said Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum, and should be limited to a single-family unit with tables 10 feet apart.

Employees and customers will be asked to wear face masks and social distancing should be observed while businesses are open, Crum said.

Bars, theaters, bingo halls and bowling alleys will remain closed, Crum said.

Asked how the state would ensure businesses will adhere to the guidelines, Dunleavy said he is confident Alaskans would follow the rules.

“I’m less concerned about that,” Dunleavy said. “We’re pretty confident and you’ve gone through what businesses have gone through, it’s our opinion that you’re going to do the right thing.”

The state’s hunker down period had allowed the state to build up its health care capacity, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said and was ready to contain a potential spike in cases.

Dunleavy said Alaska expects to receive a large shipment of personal protective equipment from China that will go a long way toward “beefing up” the state’s supply of PPE, too.

The state health mandate on social distancing was being extended indefinitely, Crum said, and the 14-day quarantine following interstate travel was extended through May.

City leaders in Juneau agree things are ready to open back up, but perhaps not as fast as the governor suggested.

“Juneau’s probably ready for a toe-dipping reopening,” Mayor Beth Weldon told the Empire Tuesday before the governor’s announcement. The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly had briefly discussed which sectors could be reopened, Weldon said, but was waiting on the governor’s announcement and would take it up at the next meeting on Monday, April 27.

She agreed with most of the governor’s suggestions about which sectors to open, but had some reservations about others, such as hairdressers. But Weldon was open to allowing businesses to open if they were able to demonstrate proper mitigation strategies.

Asked if the governor made it clear who would have the authority to make policy different from the state, Weldon said “I brought that up, but I didn’t get a straight answer.”

The limited reopening was part of a five-phased plan for restarting the Alaskan economy, Dunleavy said, and further details would be released later in the week. Crum said the state was eyeing May 8 as a date to begin the second phase and more information would be coming about what that will look like as well as criteria for beginning that phase.

At the end of the press conference, the governor announced the state had received the $1.25 billion in federal funding from the CARES Act.

“We’re working on a detailed plan,” Dunleavy said, adding his administration has been consulting with local leaders how to best allocate the funds.

“Once we’ve got a full plan in place, we’re going to submit recommendations to the Legislature for review,” he said. “We’re going to do everything we can to get back on our feet.”

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks at an Anchorage press conference on Monday, April 20, 2020. (Courtesy photo | Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks at an Anchorage press conference on Monday, April 20, 2020. (Courtesy photo | Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)

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