DHSS issues 'strong advisory,' encouraging freeze of all non-essential travel

(KTUU File)
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Department of Health and Social Services issued a "strong advisory" Friday, encouraging all Alaskans to cease non-essential travel for the time being.

"The State of Alaska and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services acknowledge the importance of suspending all non-essential travel across the Alaska border," the release stated, "as well as minimizing intrastate travel to avoid introducing new COVID-19 cases into Alaska from out of state, and slow the spread of the virus in state."

Alaskans are being asked to avoid non-essential out-of-state personal, business and medical travel, and those residents who are currently out of the state are being asked to return now, particularly if they had plans to return to the state within the next 30 days. Visitors who are tourists or on non-essential business travel are asked not to come into the state at all, with a request that those who are already here return to their home communities as soon as possible.

Anyone arriving in Alaska from a Level 3 area is required to self-quarantine for 14 days, as are all those who are visiting.

Regarding in-state travel, DHSS said Friday that a "strong advisory" is in place, recommending all Alaskans cease non-essential, in-state long-distance travel, whether personal, business or medical, "with specific heightened concern for travel to remote areas with limited medical resources."

"The sacrifice of all Alaskans during this public health emergency is notable," officials wrote. "While social distancing is one arm of slowing the spread of COVID-19, minimizing travel is an equally important part of slowing the spread of disease.

"We are aware of the impact these health advisories have," they continued, "specifically on our travel industry, already hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The state is committed to continue to work with businesses and employees impacted by the pandemic and will continue to work to mitigate these impacts. The safety and health of all Alaskans is our primary concern."

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Protect yourself by washing your hands often, not touching your eyes, nose and face, and avoiding close contact with people. The Centers for Disease Control website has more details.

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