Visitors to Alaska will soon have to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of entering the state, or else submit to a test or 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy made the announcement Friday evening at an Anchorage press conference, during which also extended said the current 14-day quarantine order would remain in effect until Friday, June 5.
“We’re asking that a test take place within 72 hours of boarding,” Dunleavy said, adding the plan was to make visiting the state, “As easy as possible but still have some significant safeguards.”
Health Mandate 10, which orders anyone traveling to Alaska from out of state to self-quarantine for 14-days, was set to expire June 2, but Dunleavy extended that date for four more days. At a meeting Thursday night, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly asked the municipal attorney to draft a resolution extending the quarantine order in anticipation of the governor lifting the mandate.
The resolution will be drafted over the weekend and presented to the Assembly Committee of the Whole Monday night, Mayor Beth Weldon said at the meeting. Expecting the mandate to be lifted altogether, Assembly members discussed what they termed a “hybrid approach,” or a middleground between a full 14-day quarantine and no screening at all.
“Instead of getting into it tonight,” said Deputy Mayor Maria Gladziszewski, “we extend 14 days with the understanding that we might be able to do something different than (the governor). This extends the 14-day while we saw if we could do something more nuanced.”
Other cities and states have already tried different travel regulations that could be used as models for Juneau, members said.
“There’s a lot of models out there,” said Assembly member Michelle Bonnet Hale. “I’m not sure we can be ready to make a decision Monday night.”
In a phone interview Friday, Weldon said the governor’s protocols for travelers coming from outside the state would satisfy most of her concerns, but she couldn’t speak for the rest of the Assembly.
Dunleavy met with Weldon and several other mayors of hub communities expecting interstate travel by telephone Friday, to explain his plan and listen to concerns. Alaska Municipal League Director Nils Andreassen, who was also on the call, said mayors were largely concerned about testing and making sure people coming into their communities had been or could be tested.
“A lot of (concerns) revolve around testing, if somebody hasn’t had a test,” Andreassen said. “A lot of the questions were about enforcement and what does that look like and ‘if a (positive patient) has to quarantine in our facilities, what state resources are being applied?”
Dunleavy said if travelers were to somehow lose their paperwork in transit, state contractors would help them find a testing site locally or have that person go through the 14-day quarantine.
“A lot of folks attribute our low numbers to that 14-day quarantine,” Dunleavy said. However, he added it was time to start trying to stand up the state’s economy.
Additional details would be available Monday, Dunleavy said.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.