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Juneau joins other Alaska communities in requiring masks

The ordinance also comes with a civil fine as enforcement for those who do not wear a face covering
 Juneau, Alaska
Juneau, Alaska (KTUU)
Published: Jul. 20, 2020 at 10:28 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly has voted unanimously to require face coverings in certain indoor settings. The ordinance will go into effect immediately and will expire Oct. 18 unless amended.

The ordinance was approved at an assembly meeting Monday and requires everyone to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth when they are “indoors in public settings or communal spaces outside the home.”

The ordinance also states that employers are responsible for making sure employees both have access to and wear a mask when they are in contact with another person like a customer or coworker.

There are several examples of locations where one is required to wear a mask, including grocery stores, restaurants, personal care facilities, public transportation and all other communal spaces.

Several exceptions are listed in the ordinance. People are not required to wear a face covering while they are eating or drinking in a restaurant, cafe or bar. Children under the age of 2 are not required to wear a mask. People who are medically unable to wear a mask and people who use facial movements as an essential part of communication are also not required to wear a face covering.

The ordinance includes an enforcement policy that could fine people up to $25 for failing to wear a mask. Employers will not be fined if customers refuse to wear a mask but the ordinance asks for businesses to post signs stating that masks are required.

“We have done a good job, we have taken advantage of our isolation and Juneau’s good job at keeping this down,” Assembly Member Michelle Hale said. “Now numbers are starting to increase, so let’s take the next step.”

Assembly members cited rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Juneau as one of the primary reasons a mask requirement was needed. On Monday, one new resident case of the virus was reported in Juneau but over the weekend, 38 new cases were identified in a Juneau fish processing plant.

Assembly Member Wade Bryson said the large number of cases reported over the weekend, coupled with finding out his father recently tested positive for COVID-19, led him to support the ordinance.

“I think we’ve reached the point that we have to take action so that we don’t continue to allow the spread. We’ve reached that point,” Bryson said.

City and Borough Mayor Beth Weldon said she was reluctant to support it. Weldon, who announced she had tested positive for and recovered from COVID-19 in May, has previously encouraged residents to get tested for the virus.

“In order not to close the businesses, increase the community transmission, get the schools open, I would reluctantly vote for this,” Weldon said.

Juneau joins Anchorage, Seward and Valdez as Alaska communities that have also instated varying mask requirements. Mayors in the Fairbanks North Star Borough also came together to write a proclamation encouraging residents to wear a mask.

Since the pandemic began, the City and Borough of Juneau has reported 95 COVID-19 cases with 63 reported in residents and 32 reported in nonresidents, according to the Department of Health and Social Services data hub on Monday.

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