Under the next phase of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s plan to reopen the state, nearly all businesses and entities in Alaska following guidelines can open to 100% capacity. It goes into effect 8 a.m. Friday.
During a Tuesday evening press conference, Dunleavy outlined the combined third and fourth phases of the reopening plan, which includes allowing all businesses, houses of worship, libraries and museums to open.
“We need to get our economy up and running, our society up and running,” Dunleavy said.
He recommended Alaskans contact their local communities to find out the particulars of when they will reopen.
“Local communities may have stricter health restrictions,” stated a PowerPoint presentation shown during the press conference.
CBJ City Manager Rorie Watt said he anticipated the topic would come up during a Wednesday night Finance Committee meeting.
Guidelines for reopening businesses will include staying six feet away from non-household members, frequent handwashing, sanitizing and cleaning high-touch surfaces, staying home if people feel sick and getting tested for COVID-19 if they have symptoms of the illness, according to the Office of the Governor. More guidance will be available online Thursday.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and breathing trouble. Most develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.
Some restrictions — including the 14-day self-quarantine mandate for interstate and international travelers — will remain in place, Dunleavy said. So too will restrictions on visitation to senior centers, prisons and institution, health mandates pertaining to elective medical and dental procedures; schools; and commercial fishing.
Large gatherings and festivals should consult with public health officials before scheduling, Dunleavy said. He also said the state is working closely with the Air Force and air cargo to come up with guidelines that will allow the state to end the self-quarantine requirement for travelers before it expires June 2.
“I am pretty optimistic that we will have everything in place to have a summer as close to normal as possible,” Dunleavy said.
Dunleavy cited Alaska’s low number of cumulative cases of COVID-19 — 399, the lowest in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention —and decreasing number of active cases as the reason for implementing the new reopening phases.
Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zine said as of Tuesday the state had zero new cases, hospitalizations or deaths.
“That was probably the quickest report we’ve had from Dr. Zink since this started,” Dunleavy said.
The governor said increases in the number of cases as well as clusters of the virus are likely going forward, but if those occur the state will work with communities to prevent spread. He said it’s unlikely that there will be a spike in statewide cases that would require reverting to an earlier phase of the reopening process or reissuing statewide mandates.
“I don’t foresee us going back to something that’s statewide,” Dunleavy said.
• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt