Revised COVID-19 mandate for Alaska travelers goes into effect Friday
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The state is revising the health mandate that outlines rules for travelers coming into Alaska from out of state during the coronavirus pandemic. Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum said the new rules are meant to make it easier for Alaskans to travel, especially those who have obligations out of state.
“There’s a lot of individuals traveling out of state for health care purposes, health care visits,” said Crum. “There’s also child custody exchanges and items like that, and to go see family members out of state, so we wanted to make sure that we relieved that little bit of a burden.”
One of the biggest changes to the mandate revolves around the duration travelers have to social distance when they arrive in Alaska.
Incoming travelers were previously expected to follow strict social distancing rules, such as avoiding indoor settings like restaurants and offices, for 14 days or until a second COVID-19 test came back negative. Starting Friday, that time has been cut down to five days and a second test is optional. Crum said the latest research suggests five days is sufficient to determine whether a person will develop symptoms from COVID-19.
When asked why the state would loosen restrictions while COVID-19 case numbers are going up, Crum said the rise is not associated with travel.
“Travel is not one of the primary vectors of bringing the virus into Alaska,” he said. “It’s okay to travel if you are prudent about it ... we know how important travel is to Alaskans.”
Crum said Alaskans need to follow all the precautions when traveling such as masking and social distancing and do whatever they can to avoid bringing COVID-19 back into the state.
But while the state has relaxed its travel policies, the Municipality of Anchorage has not. Crum said the state is working with the Municipal Health Department to better coordinate the policies, but for now, Anchorage residents will have to follow the travel mandates the city has in place.
For more information on the new restrictions, the full mandate is available to read online.
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