Alaska enters phase two of reopening: Theaters, bars, entertainment permitted

    With extremely low infection and hospitalization rates from COVID-19, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced plans for phase two of reopening segments of Alaska.

    This allows entertainment and cultural venues to incrementally open as well as bars and fitness centers. Churches and social gathering also have expanded opportunities.

    “Our numbers are still pretty much the lowest in the country,” Dunleavy said during a May 6 press briefing. “I think we all realize that we don’t want to lose our economy. Every day that goes by we have workers that are laid off – historic numbers of workers that are out of a job right now – as well as businesses that are on the brink of failing or have already failed. And so, our numbers compel us in a way to open up responsibly.”

    As of May 7, the state had just 372 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 284 recovered. There have been only 38 total hospitalizations and 10 deaths. To date, nearly 24,000 Alaskans have been tested for the virus with just a 1.6% percent testing positive.

    Beginning May 8, phase two of the reopening the economy will allow most non-essential businesses to reopen with safeguards. This will permit the following:

    • 50% capacity for retail, restaurants, and other non-essential businesses outlined in phase one. Walk-ins permitted.
    • 50% capacity, or up to 20 patrons, for personal care services with reservations only.
    • 50-person capacity for religious and social gatherings.
    • 25% capacity for fitness centers (10-foot distance and  outdoor activities of 50 people)
    • 25% capacity for bars, theaters, libraries, museums and entertainment venues. Walk-ins permitted.
    • 50% capacity for swimming pools. Walk-ins permitted.

    Dunleavy urged Alaskans to continue following the social distancing and health mandates to keep virus from spreading, and he asked everyone to be extra vigilant around older or vulnerable people.

    If the virus remains largely in check, Dunleavy said the state will move quickly to phase three, which would permit even greater economic and social freedoms.

    We thought we were going to have a massive number of cases – that hasn’t happened.

    “If our numbers hold, we begin the discussion next week with our health teams,” he said, adding that the state hopes to announce guidelines for sports competitions and summer camps in a few days.

    The state’s strategy is to monitor growth of the virus through widespread testing, which will indicate if there are problem areas where the virus is expanding. Dunleavy expects to see more cases, but at this point he said the state has the resources to manage the virus.

    “We’ve got pretty good numbers,” he noted. “We thought we were going to have a massive number of cases – that hasn’t happened.”

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