Anchorage announces new emergency order, restrictions to loosen as new COVID-19 case numbers drop

Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 1:07 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson has announced the rollout of a new emergency order, EO-17, for the Municipality of Anchorage, which will take effect at 8 a.m. on Friday morning.

Citing a drop in transmission rates in Alaska’s largest city, the acting mayor’s plan is to “gently loosen restrictions, while remaining focused on public health,” according to a press release issued on Tuesday.

Under EO-17, bars and restaurants will once again be allowed to reopen their barrooms and dining areas, but only at 25% of their total building capacity; however, residents are still being asked to limit physical contact with those living outside of their households. Entertainment facilities must also adhere to a 25% capacity limitation.

Indoor gatherings will be subject to a six-person limit, with outdoor gatherings capped at 10 people. The new emergency orders do layout several exceptions for religious and political gatherings, day cares, classrooms, drive-in events, and “indoor special shopping events.”

Gyms and fitness centers will be limited to 50% capacity, but all organized indoor sports competitions between more than one team are still forbidden. Salons and all other public-facing businesses also are subject to 50% of their building’s overall capacity.

Tuesday afternoon, Anchorage Health Department Director Heather Harris acknowledge that with the adoption of EO-17, case counts could increase again, but she’s optimistic that Anchorage residents will have the willpower and drive to keep case counts down until the spring when vaccines will be more widely available.

When asked about how long EO-17 may be in effect, municipal leaders said that it will likely come down to a data-driven decision. According to municipal epidemiologist Janet Johnson, it normally takes about 3-4 weeks to see a difference in data as the result of changes to restrictions. Quinn-Davidson said it will also depend on whether her emergency powers, set to expire on Jan. 15, are extended.

“We’ll see what happens at the assembly meeting on the 12th. Assuming the emergency order is extended, we’ll talk about next steps from there,” she said.

A complete copy of the new emergency orders can be read HERE.

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