Local businesses react to indoor mask requirements in Anchorage

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The debate over whether or not masks should be mandatory in public areas is not just limited to individuals. Businesses in Anchorage are preparing to enforce mask requirements, starting on Monday -- whether they agree or not.

In Spenard, Title Wave Books is fully supportive of the move. Owner Angela Libal says most of her staff have elected to use masks in the store on their own, and the store has been offering masks and sanitizer at their door for every customer.

"We've been on the cautious side anyway," Libal told KTUU. "We do have a wide customer base of all age ranges and backgrounds. We want to provide a safe environment for everyone."

While most of the store's visitors have been cooperative, Libal says the occasional shopper does not want to mask up. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz's latest emergency order takes that choice out of the public's hands.

In some cases, it won't make much of a difference. The order clearly states that masks will be required in all indoor public spaces, but at The Bicycle Shop on Northern Lights Boulevard, most business is taking place in the parking lot because of the pandemic.

"A couple of customers will come inside with masks, but most of our business has been outside," manager, Nicholas Carman said. "Nobody wants to wear a mask, or live in a society where it feels like we are at risk for public health, but we are."

According to Carman his team is supportive of the order as a protective measure for both staff and customers.

Petr Bucinsky, the owner of Petr's Violin Shop, has a differing opinion. During an interview with KTUU, he expressed concern for the lack of public input regarding a decision that affects the entire municipality.

"With the amount of cases in Alaska, it is so minimal," Bucinsky said. "It doesn't add up. I'm all for safety, but there is a limit."

After Mayor Berkowitz announced the implementation of emergency order 13 on Friday, Alaska's Attorney General, Kevin Clarkson sent a memorandum to state workers who's offices are located within the municipality. A portion of the message reads as follows:

"The recent enactment by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz of the facemask mandate for the Municipality and Borough of Anchorage in response to COVID-19 does not apply to State of Alaska buildings and facilities within the Municipality of Anchorage."

The memo also notes that the Governor's office supports all State of Alaska employees choose to wear masks voluntarily as a means of mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

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