coronavirus in Alaska Archives - Alaska Watchman
 

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Mayor Ethan Berkowitz issued a strong warning to restaurant and bar owners that if they don’t follow a series of health suggestions, he may shut them down again. He had Sarah Oats CEO of the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant & Retailers Association lay out the “guidelines” which were developed after the mayor called representatives of the hospitality industry to the table. Oats said they are just trying to keep from being shuttered again. “I have...

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Gov. Mike Dunleavy waded into the mask mandate controversy during his June 30 press conference. Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz imposed a mask mandate across Alaska’s largest city, which prompted the governor to exempt state employees working in state buildings. Dunleavy didn’t directly address his differences with the mayor but did reiterate his consistent message of encouraging mask wearing, an approach he says has yielded impressive results. He also said he has no current plans to...

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On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that states cannot prohibit tuition grants or scholarships to private religious schools if they award the same grants to secular private schools. The court’s ruling dealt with a state scholarship program in Montana which banned the use of taxpayer funds at religious or sectarian schools. The high court noted that states have the right to decide whether to fund private schools, but if they do, they...

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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. “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...

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Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz took to the radio on June 25 to defend his forthcoming emergency order to mandate widespread mask wearing under penalty of law. “We just hope that moving forward, we can remind those who hadn’t been following the rules, that they are rules,” he said emphasized during “Hunker Down Anchor Town” on 106.1FM. “They are not guidelines and that it is part of your public duty to follow those rules.” Berkowitz, who...

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The annual July 4th fireworks show is a go in Juneau. Funded in part by the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ), the event will require all spectators to wear a face covering and maintain at least six feet from non-household members. The Juneau Assembly gave the green light on the show during its June 22 meeting. An emergency ordinance mandating the use of a face covering during the fireworks display will be discussed at...

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A group of freedom loving Mat-Su business owners sprang into action upon hearing that Wasilla canceled its traditional 4th of July celebrations due to COVID-19. “The Valley is an independent place, made up of people who are smart, caring, resilient, and FREE,” an announcement on the Valley Freedom Festival website proclaims. Palmer Mayor Edan DeVries welcomed the citizen-led celebration with open arms. It kicks off with a Freedom Fest on Friday and Saturday, July 3-4...

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After the Anchorage Assembly twice refused to order residents to wear masks, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has decided to take matters into his own hands and use his ongoing emergency powers to demand mask wearing across the municipality. “There is disregard for some of the public health measures that have kept us safe to this point,” he charged at the June 23 Assembly meeting. “I think the presence of an order is an indicator of what...

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The past few weeks have seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases across Alaska, but it is important to keep the statistics in perspective. Both Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the state’s chief medical officer Anne Zink said Alaska would see increased case counts as the state began to reopen last month. That has happened, but the state remains in a solid position in terms of hospital beds, PPE and available ventilators. Testing capacity has also increased,...

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The Anchorage Assembly voted 9-2 on June 2 to extend Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s ability to enact and enforce emergency orders as they pertain to COVID-19. With the extension, Berkowitz can continue to punish residents who violate his orders regarding the wearing of facemasks for certain businesses, as well as businesses that do not adhere to health and safety mandates regarding social distancing, hygiene and cleaning requirements. Violations can be punished through fines as well as...