Seward joins Anchorage in requiring citizens to wear masks
The City of Seward has responded to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the area by instating a requirement to wear masks.
The Seward City Council declared a state of emergency Wednesday and adopted an emergency regulation that requires mask-wearing, social distancing, limits capacity at city-owned campgrounds, prohibits gatherings of 20 people and limits capacity at restaurants, tourism ventures and churches.
While Seward is a popular destination for marine tours, those tours now are required to limit indoor seating capacity to 10 people or 50% of capacity, the regulation says. The regulations come within the same week as the Kenai Fjords Tours announced it was shutting down operations after two employees tested positive for the virus.
Campgrounds owned by the city will remain open but they will stop taking reservations after campgrounds have met 50% capacity.
All gatherings of 20 or more people are prohibited unless in the name of exercising a Constitutional right such as the right to peacefully assemble.
The ordinance will be in place for 30 days unless renewed.
Seward's masking requirement comes as the state Department of Health and Social Services has noted a rapid increase in positive cases in the city. The city has had 35 cases of COVID-19 reported in residents and nonresidents including three new resident cases reported by DHSS on Thursday.
Last week, DHSS put out an advisory alert asking anyone who had visited two bars in Seward to seek testing with concerns that people had been exposed to two people who later tested positive with the virus.
The emergency regulations come just days after the Anchorage order to wear masks went into effect. Just like the Anchorage order, the Seward ordinance states masks must cover both the mouth and nose and must be worn in buildings that are open to the public.
The ordinance has several exceptions for who must wear a mask including children under the age of four and those with medical conditions that prevent them from being able to wear a mask.
Masks are not required when people are with others of the same household or alone. People are also allowed to eat and drink without wearing a mask but must keep the mask on if they are not in the process of consuming food.
For more information about the ordinance, visit the City of Seward website or read the ordinance