Residents of Alaska’s capital city and surrounding borough are now required to wear face masks when gathered in indoor public settings or communal spaces outside the home. Those who resist the law are subject to a civil fine of up to $25.
The Juneau Assembly unanimously passed an ordinance to this effect on June 20. It is effective for the next 90 days unless terminated earlier.
Settings in which residents must be masked include the following:
- Grocery stores, pharmacies, and all other retail stores.
- Restaurants, cafes, bars, and breweries – including food preparation, carry-out, and delivery food operations. There is a limited exception for customers who are eating or drinking in one of these settings.
- Buses, taxis, and other forms of public transportation when passengers are present.
- Personal care facilities and childcare facilities.
- Communal areas or offices where people from multiple households are present.
- Elevators and indoor communal spaces in other buildings.
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Employers are responsible to make sure employees have access to and wear cloth face coverings when in direct contact with members of the public or other employees. Masks are not required when the only contact is between members of the same household or employees who are more than six feet apart.
Exceptions to the ordinance include the following:
- All children under two years old.
- Any child younger than 12 years unless a parent or caregiver is supervising.
- Any child in a day care or day camp setting
- Any person for whom wearing a mask or cloth face covering would be contrary to his or her health or safety because of a medical condition or mental health condition, and any individual unable to tolerate a mask due to a physical or mental disability.
- Individuals who are speech impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing, or individuals communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, where facial or mouth movements are an integral part of communication.
- Any individual who has trouble breathing or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
- People who are exercising, if mask wearing would interfere with breathing.
- People who are incarcerated or in police custody.
- Those performing activities that cannot be safely conducted while wearing a mask (for example, a driver experiencing foggy glasses).
- Musicians, presenters, ministers, and others communicating to an audience or being recorded, for the duration of their presentation.
The ordinance does not require people to show evidence for why they cannot wear a mask due to medical or disability reasons but it does suggest that businesses “may wish to consider accommodating such individuals through curbside or delivery.”
As far as enforcement goes, employers will not be subject to fines if customers fail to comply with the law so long as signs are clearly posted telling customers that they must wear a face mask.