Anchorage acting mayor: schools, hospitality industry need decrease in COVID-19 transmission to reopen

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Published: Dec. 14, 2020 at 5:42 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - During Monday’s state of the city address, held at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Anchorage’s Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson called on the community to help drive down COVID-19 case numbers in order to once again fully open schools along with bars and restaurants.

“The problem is the virus and this pandemic and how the virus spreads,” Quinn-Davidson said. “It’s when people are indoors with masks off. Unfortunately that’s the model of a restaurant.”

The hospitality industry feels it is the target of strict mandates that make it difficult to keep doors open, workers employed and the ability to make ends meet.

“It’s really hard to weigh the cost of life and that’s where we are right now,” Quinn-Davidson said. “We know if we have more and more people interacting, that more people will die. We know that, that is what statistically what happens. So, at what point, where do we draw that line?”

Quinn-Davidson said she’s been talking with business owners in the industry to explore different ways to help keep the doors open.

“Indoor dining is the highest risk actually,” Epidemiologist Dr. Janet Johnston said. “Because the virus is a respiratory virus, any place where masks are taken off are places where transmission is the highest.”

Quinn-Davidson says it will take the entire community to bring the case numbers down and keep them down.

“I didn’t create the pandemic,” Quinn-Davidson said. “I wouldn’t have wanted it to be this way. We’re following the science and doing what we can. We also know that the more cases there are, so if we have everything open and we get more and more cases as we’ve seen consistently in the numbers, that means the economy will slow down already, we have economic advisors who are telling us.”

Quinn-Davidson says she understands the concerns in the business community but there is no bias when it comes to bars and restaurants. It’s just the current hand the pandemic has dealt.

Under the current hunker down emergency order, gatherings indoors are limited to six people and outdoor gatherings are capped at 10 people. All restaurants, bars, breweries, nightclubs and similar businesses are closed except to allow outdoor dining, take out and delivery service.

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