As of Feb. 23, there are no universal mask mandates or Covid testing requirements to enter the Capitol Building in Juneau.

The 14-member Legislative Council voted unanimously on the new policy changes, which scrap mandates that previously required media, legislators and staff to test for Covid every four days and wear masks throughout the building.

Sen. Lora Reinbold made a motion to make Covid testing optional. She cited an NIH study showing that 50% of people globally have already had Covid, and she said natural immunity provides strong protection against Covid illness.

“The bottom line here is that it seems excessive in every way to be testing every four days,” Reinbold said.

Sen. Bert Stedman spoke in support of dropping the testing mandate, which he suspected wasn’t being adhered to very strictly anyway.

“Some of us get tested, some of us don’t,” he said, while noting that he does get tested. “I support the amendment to make it optional, because they are doing it anyway.”

Reinbold’s amendment passed 12-2 with Democrats Rep. Matt Claman and Rep. Sara Hannan voting against.

When it comes to masking, the new policy creates an inconsistent patchwork system in which individual committee chairs can decide whether to enforce masks during their committee meetings. It also allows the Capitol’s lounge area to require masks. Signs will now be posted throughout the building in an attempt to address confusion over which areas of the building require masks and which do not.

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Covid tests, parts of mask mandate ditched for Alaska’s Capitol building

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.