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Anchorage mayor returns to additional restrictions with new emergency order

Under the mandate, capacities of both personal social gatherings and allowances in public spaces are reduced once again
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View of Anchorage(KTUU)
Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 3:08 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Watch the mayor’s press conference LIVE on the Channel 2 Facebook page or at KTUU.com.

Anchorage will return to a more limited capacity for private indoor and outdoor gatherings as well as most public spaces at the end of this week, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said Wednesday, citing climbing coronavirus case counts in the city.

“We’ve seen an inability for our medical capacity to keep pace,” Berkowitz said, citing a surge in coronavirus cases in the community, “and seen our health capacity unable to stay up with what’s going on.”

The new order further limits public interactions - through capacity and gathering limits - in what health officials have come to consider high-risk situations during the coronavirus pandemic. That list includes but is not limited to bars, restaurants, gyms, bingo halls, and many other indoor facilities. Businesses will also have to disclose and alert its workers when an employee tests positive.

There are 1,058 cases of coronavirus recorded thus far in Anchorage, including 668 active cases, according to Natasha Pineda, Director of the Anchorage Health Department. Pineda also said that from July 9 through July 15, there were 187 local cases recorded. Since then, and in a shorter time period, at least 225 additional cases have been recorded.

Across the state, Alaska has recorded at least 2,132 positive cases of coronavirus as of July 22, per the Department of Health and Social Services. The 19th death of an Alaskan diagnosed with coronavirus was recorded on Wednesday after a Fairbanks woman in her 80′s passed away.

“Anchorage provides healthcare for most of the state,” Berkowitz said. “Looking at hundreds of cases coming in from seafood workers, that will put a burden on our ability to provide capacity for people in Anchorage, and so we’re watching what’s going on inside anchorage as well as what’s happening outside the community.

“We know we have a humanitarian responsibility to all of Alaska,” he said, “but that responsibility impacts some of the decisions that we make.”

Berkowitz signed Emergency Order 14 “to preserve health and save lives in the Municipality of Anchorage,” according to a statement from the Municipality of Anchorage. The order returns the city to a modified version of Phase Two in the MOA’s “Safe Anchorage: Roadmap to Reopening the Municipality of Anchorage” plan.

The new order will take effect on Friday, July 24, at 8 a.m. and will technically supersede Emergency Order 10.

“The current surge in COVID-19 cases is threatening the strength of our health system, imperiling our ability to safely reopen schools, and endangering the lives and well-being of Anchorage residents,” according to a release from the mayor’s office. “Right now, being indoors with people from other households is the riskiest place residents can be for catching and spreading COVID-19.”

Anchorage health officials also said that current data levels, including identified widespread community transmission and reduction in contact tracing capacity, do not meet the risk metrics established for the third phase of the municipality’s roadmap to reopening.

The mayor’s next press confernce is expected to happen on Friday. Further details on EO-14, directly from the municipality, are below.

Gathering Limitations: Indoor gatherings are limited to no more than 25 people. Outdoor gatherings involving consumption of food or drink are limited to 50 people or fewer. This does not limit shopping at farmer’s markets or outdoor food-truck events or the continuation of drive-in events where groups remain in separate vehicles and maintain physical distancing.

Bars and Nightclub Capacity Limited: Bars and nightclubs are limited to 25 percent of maximum building occupancy indoors and outdoors; including staff and customers.

Restaurant and Brewery Capacity Limited: Restaurants and breweries are limited to 50 percent of maximum building occupancy indoors; including staff and customers. Outdoors, restaurants are limited to table service, with tables no less than 10 feet apart.

Capacity Limitations at Gyms, Bingo Halls, Theaters, and Other Recreation and Entertainment Facilities: Indoor entertainment and recreation facilities including gyms and bingo halls are limited to 50 percent of building occupancy.

Legible Visitor Logs Required: All establishments serving the public in a sit-down setting, or for an in-person appointment or service lasting fifteen minutes or longer, must keep a legible record of the first and last name, phone number, and email address of all adult customers or clients for no less than 30 days. This information will only be collected if needed for contact tracing or enforcement of this order.

This story is being updated. Please check back for details.

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