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As Anchorage ‘battens down’ protestors oppose another shutdown

Opponents says businesses will suffer under the new emergency order.
Protestors waved signs and chanted outside the Loussac Library Monday to oppose the latest emergency order.
Protestors waved signs and chanted outside the Loussac Library Monday to oppose the latest emergency order.(Matt Leseman)
Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 10:31 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As Anchorage begins to “batten down,” protestors outside the Loussac Library Monday voiced their opposition to Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s latest emergency order. The order stops indoor dining at restaurants and breweries, closes bars and nightclubs except for takeout and delivery, and closes bingo halls and theaters completely.

Many in attendance Monday argued those dramatic measures would hurt or destroy businesses in those industries, particularly when the economy is already suffering.

“All of my employees, or the majority of them, 31, have been furloughed,” John Powers, owner of Tudor Bingo, said.

Powers said he felt bingo halls had been unfairly shut down when they’d managed to avoid any significant outbreaks originating from the industry in Anchorage.

In a written statement, Berkowitz’s communications director wrote Monday that “there is overwhelming evidence that activities that take place in bars and restaurants lead to super-spreader events of the disease.”

“The municipality is doing what it can to help these businesses, and is encouraging them to serve Anchorage safely with to-go, curbside, and in the case of restaurants, outdoor seating,” the statement said.

Powers felt the municipality could be doing a little bit more to help his and other businesses, including better communication.

“We would like to entertain a visit from the mayor, or at least a call,” he said. “The mayor says that he’s checked in with industry leaders, but our bingo hall is the industry leader in the state of Alaska for charitable gaming.”

Many called for the mayor to rescind the emergency order, including Alford, who also started an online petition to repeal the order on Sunday.

“It’s over 2500 signatures now, I’m not exactly sure how many,” he said. “Just very surprised.”

Alford said he doesn’t expect the petition to get the order repealed, but he hopes it will help to start a better dialogue between these industries and the municipality, one many on Monday said is currently sorely lacking.

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