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Sitka Assembly to debate paying $1,000 checks to coronavirus-impacted residents to stay home

The proposal is one of three ordinances including Sitka’s first mask mandate
Welcome to Sitka sign.
Welcome to Sitka sign.(KTUU)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 3:03 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - The Sitka Assembly is set to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday evening to try to curb an unprecedented COVID-19 case spike in the city.

Assembly members are set to debate three ordinances: One would pay $1,000 to adult Sitkans who need to quarantine or isolate and are unable to work. Impacted residents would need to pledge to stay home for 10 days and show proof of employment to receive the checks.

“The ability of a family to withstand 10 days of quarantine may determine whether a positive person chooses to stay home,” a memorandum attached to the ordinance reads. “Providing support to families for lost work time will decrease the burden of unpaid time off, including parents who must stay home with a Covid positive child.”

The ordinance limits the appropriation for those checks to $300,000 out of Sitka’s general fund but it would be made retroactive to July 1.

A second ordinance would set up two sites for nonresidents who test positive for COVID-19 and need to quarantine or isolate for 10 days. The ordinance states that facilities to quarantine are “severely limited” in Sitka.

Travelers needing to quarantine or isolate would need to pay the City and Borough of Sitka for the cost of their stay. Both of those two ordinances would expire by Sept. 28, if they’re approved by the necessary five of eight assembly members.

A third ordinance, needing to pass by the same margin, would implement Sitka’s first mask mandate since the pandemic began. Sitkans would be required to wear masks in most public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

If approved by the assembly, a person who violates the face mask mandate would be subject to a fine of $50.

There would be several masking exceptions, including for children 2 years old or younger and for people with breathing difficulties. The masking ordinance would expire on Aug. 24 or if Sitka’s COVID-19 alert level drops down from high to moderate.

Memos attached to the ordinances state that although Sitka’s vaccination rate is around 70%, roughly one-third of recent cases are from vaccine breakthrough and all positive cases require quarantine or isolation.

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