Alaskans can now travel between communities on the road system and via the Alaska Marine Highway System, according to a new mandate issued Tuesday by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office.
Travel is still prohibited to and from communities off the road system, the new mandate said, unless the travel is supporting “critical infrastructure or critical personal needs.”
“In reviewing all health mandates, monitoring the evolving COVID-19 case data, and acknowledging the need for clarity, I am easing the restrictions on intrastate travel on the road system and communities serviced by AMHS by issuing COVID-19 Health Mandate 18,” Dunleavy said in a Tuesday release. “The hard work of all Alaskans over the past several months has significantly stalled the spread of this disease, allowing us to methodically reopen pieces of our economy.”
Traveling to off-road communities is allowed for a critical personal needs, such as buying, selling or delivering groceries, obtaining fuel for vehicles or residential needs, transporting family for out-of-home care, essential health needs, child custody exchanges, “obtaining other important goods” and engaging in subsistence activities.
Air carriers, ferries and other transportation services have “no duty” to verify travelers meet criteria for travel, the mandate said. People traveling are still subject to social distancing mandates.
The mandate said travelers should minimize stops along the way. If stopping for food, gas or supplies “only one traveler shall engage with the third-party vendor.”
The mandate also says cloth face coverings should be used whenever travelers stop for food, gas or supplies. When stopping, travelers “shall wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before exiting and immediately returning to the car or vehicle,” the mandate said.
COVID by the numbers
There was no increase in COVID-19 cases in Alaska from Tuesday to Wednesday. The total number of cases in the state still rests at 383, according to the state’s coronavirus response hub website.
There have been no new deaths and no new hospitalizations of people with confirmed cases of the disease. According to the state website, there are 12 people currently being hospitalized for either confirmed cases of the disease or suspected cases.
Of the state’s total 383 cases, 338 people have recovered from COVID-19 so far.
The state’s 383 cases are spread out across 26 Alaska communities. As of Tuesday evening, there are 173 cases in Anchorage, six in Chugiak, 13 in Eagle River and three in Girdwood. In the Fairbanks North Star Borough, there are 66 cases in Fairbanks, 18 in North Pole and one in a community labeled “other.” In the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, there are nine cases in Palmer and 12 in Wasilla. On the Kenai Peninsula, Kenai and Soldotna each have six cases, Homer has four, Seward and Sterling both have three cases and Anchor Point has had two cases. In the Southeast, Juneau has 29 cases, Ketchikan has 16, Petersburg has four, Craig has two and Sitka has one. Bethel, Kodiak, Nome, Delta Junction, Tok and the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area each have one case.
Locally, South Peninsula Hospital has sent 606 samples off for testing as of Wednesday morning. Of those, four tests have come back positive, 547 have come back negative and 55 tests are still pending.
Reach Victoria Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Megan Pacer contributed to this article.