Governor says Berkowitz’s facemask order doesn’t apply to state buildings

    Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson has told all state employees that Anchorage’s new emergency order mandating face masks in public doesn’t impact those working at state facilities located in Anchorage.

    Mask Memo

    “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,” Clarkson wrote in the June 26 memo.

    A June 29 follow up memo from Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office clarified that his administration has “always allowed local governments, in consultation with the state, the ability to implement health mandates based on the circumstances in a community.  Municipal health mandates and codes apply to state buildings and facilities. In this case, the Governor decided to preempt the municipal mandatory mask mandate for state buildings and facilities in the Municipality of Anchorage.”

    The memo adds that the governor “encourages Alaskans to wear a face mask, in fact, it is strongly recommended under an existing mandate. The administration also actively promotes other measures like social distancing and frequent hand washing to slow or prevent the spread of the disease.”

    Berkowitz and Gov. Mike Dunleavy have taken different approaches to COVID-19, with the governor preferring to trust Alaskans and rely more on recommendations and guidelines rather than enforcing health mandates under the penalty of law. For his part, Berkowitz has consistently lagged behind the state in easing mandates in Alaska’s largest city. The mayor has also reputedly emphasized that his code enforcement team is active in monitoring compliance and is prepared to issue fines.

    On May 22, Dunleavy lifted nearly all state health mandates while Berkowitz followed suit and eased a number of his emergency orders while choosing to keep Anchorage under more stringent demands than the state. His latest move on June 29, to require face coverings for nearly all residents when gathered inside public buildings or businesses, has been met with widespread criticism.

    According to Clarkson, Dunleavy backs state workers’ choice when it comes mask wearing.

    “The Governor supports State of Alaska employees that want to voluntarily wear facemasks of face coverings to assist in the mitigation of COVID-19,” Clarkson emphasized in his memo.

    Mask mandate

    Anchorage Municipal Attorney Kate Vogel issued a statement challenging the state’s ability to supersede Berkowitz’s mask order.

    “The Attorney General’s memo sows confusion and unnecessarily risks the health and safety of Anchorage residents who do business with or work for state agencies,” Vogel claimed. “The legislature has not acted to restrict Anchorage’s authority with respect to issuing mask mandates, nor has it exempted state-owned buildings from generally applicable local health and safety rules.”

    She asserted that Clarkson’s memo “puts State of Alaska employees in legal jeopardy by giving them inaccurate legal advice.”

    Click here to support the Alaska Watchman.

    Joel Davidson
    Joel Davidson
    Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 20 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.

    Share this article

    Related articles

    Leave a reply

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here


    Alaska Watchman relies on the generous support of our readers. All donations go directly to supporting and expanding our news coverage. Please consider becoming a regular supporter.

    Select a Donation Option (USD)

    Enter Donation Amount (USD)


    Personal Info

    Donation Total: $100.00

    Stay Informed

    Receive breaking stories and analysis from the Alaska Watchman directly to your inbox for free.

    No spam ever. Guaranteed.

    Latest articles

    Abortion is the paramount political issue

    “The future of Alaska is at stake!” “The future of America is at stake!” Liberals, conservatives,...

    The ‘equity’ police are really after political power

    Both in Alaska and around the country we hear a lot these days about the quest for “equity” in city council meetings,...

    Ballot Measure 2 replaces fair elections with political trickery

    You’ve likely heard the saying that politicians are like diapers: they should be changed often, and for the same reason.

    Fairbanks resumes push to radicalize schools with LGBT, anti-Christian courses

    Wouldn't it make sense that if parents objected to the pornography in the proposed Fairbanks North Star Borough School District curriculum that...

    News tips