Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson has issued a stringent new emergency order that will shut down or severely limit scores of Anchorage businesses in the lead up to Christmas.
An emotional Quinn-Davison read a prepared statement, her voice cracking several times as she announced that she has “done everything she could” to bring Anchorage’s COVID cases down. She blamed the lack of “behavior change” for her need to impose some of the most stringent mandates the city has seen over the past year.
At city of 290,000 residents, Anchorage has 82 COVID positive patients in the hospital. Not all of these patients are hospitalized because of COVID symptoms but they have tested positive. In terms hospital availability there are still 584 inpatient beds, 92 ICU beds and 295 ventilators.
The new order, which begins Dec. 1, limits indoor gatherings to six people and outdoor gathering to 10. There are some exceptions for religious and political gatherings. The law even applies to personal households.
ALASKA WATCHMAN DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX
Bars, restaurants and cafes will be shut down for in-person dining for all of December. Gyms, bingo halls, theaters and many other businesses will be completely shuttered.
“The order will affect every individual and business in the municipality,” Quinn-Davidson said. “I know this is incredibly difficult news.”
She said her actions were personally “hard but necessary.”
Many area businesses have just barely clung on during the litany of 16 emergency mandates that former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and now Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson have imposed on residents. In addressing the economic impact, Quinn-Davidson said she is calling on Congress to pour millions of additional federal stimulus funds into the state. She plans to meet with Alaska’s Washington, D.C. delegation.
To enforce her mandates, Quinn-Davidson said the city is hiring three new code enforcement officers. She said Anchorage police would also be available to issue fines and remove unmasked people from businesses.
The new order has more onerous consequences for business that fail to comply follow. With past mandates the city only issued temporary stop-work orders. It can now shut businesses down for up to two weeks as punishment.
“In addition to fines and other penalties currently provided by law, violations of this emergency order may result in mandatory suspension of activities or closure of individual businesses, non-profits and other entities for a period of up to two weeks,” the order states.
While the city is not planning to issue fines in private homes, it does apply those places as well.
“We are asking people to not gather for the holidays,” she said. “I know my wife and I are spending Thanksgiving by ourselves.”
- Individuals: Outside of private homes, everyone “shall maintain” at least a six foot distance from everyone else. Everyone must wear a mask in public. If anyone has been in “close contact” with someone who is COVID positive, they “shall quarantine for the length of time directed by public health official,” even if they have no symptoms. Those who test positive for COIVD must quarantine for 10 days.
- Gatherings: Masks are required at all gatherings – indoors and out. Indoor gatherings are limited to six people and outdoor gathering 10 people.
- Gathering Exceptions: Pre-K through 12th grade educational gatherings are limited to 50% of classroom occupancy. Day cares and day camps are not under this emergency order. Wedding and funerals can have up to 20 people, but only six if indoors with food and drink and only 10 if outdoors with food and drink.
- Worship and political gatherings: Masks must be worn at all times and only 50% of indoor capacity allowed. All gatherings must have COVID mitigation plans in place with hard copies on site.
- Gathering limitations don’t apply to Indoor shopping special events like holiday bazaars.
- University classrooms may have 15 people in a gathering.
- No indoor service allowed at bars, breweries, restaurants or nightclubs.
- Bingo halls, theaters, private clubs and all other recreational and entertainment facilities must be completely closed.
- Sports teams: No organized indoor games. Practices may not take place unless players can keep 10 feet away at all times.
- Indoor gyms, recreation and fitness centers: These are all capped at 25% capacity and require a 10-foot separation between people.
- Salons and personal care: These are limited to 25% capacity and masks must be worn at all times.
- Retail and public-facing businesses: These are limited to 25% capacity.
- Visitor logs: All businesses that deal with the public in-person must keep a log that has the full name, phone number and email address of customers.
The new order is posted on the municipality website.