JBER installation commander declares public health emergency on base
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Installation Commander Col. Kirsten Aguilar has declared a 30-day public health emergency for the base after consulting with Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Anchorage Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson.
The declaration went into effect Monday and will expire in 30 days unless terminated early or extended. The emergency declaration comes with a new set of COVID-19 restrictions and gives military law enforcement officers the ability to detain those who refuse to comply with the new restrictions.
“This declaration reflects the continued reality that JBER is experiencing sustained community transmission of COVID-19,” Aguilar said in a video message.
In a Facebook post, Aguilar said there are several new restrictions all military and civilian personnel — along with their families — must follow. First, everyone on base must wear a mask unless they are alone or outside and socially distanced. People with health limitations are still expected to wear a face shield. Private gatherings are now restricted to two family groups at most. A single-family group only includes individuals living in the same primary residence, a memorandum from the base states.
Military members are also prohibited from dining or drinking off base. The declaration prohibits in-person consumption of food or drinks at restaurants, bars, breweries, pubs or nightclubs. Military personnel are still allowed to use pick-up or delivery services. Military members are prohibited from partaking in gatherings that occur outside of JBER if they include more than two family groups.
JBER will no longer issue base passes unless an exemption comes from the installment commander. This means extensions of base access passes for Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers are suspended immediately.
“I encourage each of us to find resourceful and safe ways to connect with each other," Aguilar said in her message to JBER. "Hug your family members, laugh with your friends, practice your faith, keep enjoying the majestic beauty of Alaska. Look for opportunities to serve each other and take care of one another.”
In the memorandum, Aguilar says the restrictions have been “vetted by public health experts, and adherence to these rules will decrease the rate of infection.”
Military members with any symptoms of COVID-19 are asked to get tested at the Medical Group Respiratory Clinic and notify their chain of command instead of going directly to work. Military members with household members who have COVID-19 symptoms should not enter a workspace, a Q&A sheet states.
JBER has provided a template for individuals who would like to request an exception to the temporary access restrictions here.
The public health emergency on the base comes as Dunleavy has extended Alaska’s emergency disaster declaration until Dec. 15. The Municipality of Anchorage has tightened its restrictions on Monday by removing most exemptions for mask wearing and further limiting the size of indoor and outdoor gatherings.
The Department of Health and Social Services says Alaska is at a high alert level with more than 10 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. On Saturday, Alaska saw a record-breaking daily increase in COVID-19 cases with 604 new cases reported in residents and nonresidents.
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