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Anchorage shuts down bars, restaurants for indoor service

was written by Kavitha George, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage , 2020-07-31 20:32:25

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Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz speaks at a July 31, 2020 press conference (Screenshot from Mayor Berkowitz Facebook)

At a press conference on Friday, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz announced a new emergency order closing restaurants and breweries to indoor service. Bars and nightclubs will be closed to dine-in service. Emergency Order 15 also limits indoor gatherings to 15 people and outdoor gatherings with food and drinks to 25 people. Outdoor gatherings without food and drinks are limited to 50 people.

“Bars and restaurants … are unfortunately bearing the brunt of what’s going on right now,” Berkowitz said. He acknowledged that while the closures have disproportionately affected the hospitality industry, since bars and restaurants have frequently been major transmission sites for COVID-19, the restrictions are “necessary, nonetheless.”

The order goes into effect on Monday, August 3 at 8 a.m. and will last for four weeks.

“By waiting for four weeks, we should see be able to judge whether these measures are helping to reduce transmission or whether we need to do additional steps,” Anchorage Health Department medical officer Dr. Bruce Chandler said on Friday.

Berkowitz also extended the city’s mask order and added that masks will now also be required for all indoor and outdoor gatherings.

Retail and other businesses are encouraged to reduce public interaction through telephone or online ordering and curbside pickup and delivery. Gyms and other entertainment facilities remain under Emergency Order 14, which requires them to operate at 50 percent capacity.

Related: The rules for crossing the Canadian border into Alaska just got even stricter

Emergency Order 15 also requires people to work from home if that can be done without “significantly impeding business operations.”

Anchorage’s Roadmap to reopening status on July 31, 2020 (Screenshot from Muni website)

As with other recent orders, Berkowitz said the city will respond to complaints of non-compliance by educating businesses about new measures. He said education has been largely effective as an enforcement method.

The mayor indicated the municipality may step in to provide assistance for out-of-work businesses and employees, but he said they are currently waiting to see what happens at the federal level.

In the last week, COVID-19 cases have continued to surge. Anchorage had 494 new cases this week, up from 187 the week before. Department of Health Director Natasha Pineda said the city’s public health capacity remains at a ‘red light’ level, the most urgent level on the city’s scale for measuring response capability. Health care capacity is still at a ‘yellow light,’ but city officials warn that current trends indicate Anchorage could run out of ICU beds by September 17. 

This week the city opened five new testing sites spread around town. Anchorage municipal manager Bill Falsey said all five are free and don’t require a doctor’s referral.

“We’re encouraging anyone with even mild symptoms, or who thinks they may have been exposed to go to those sites to get covid tested. We’ll also test people who are asymptomatic if they feel like they have been exposed,” he said.

The new locations are ChangePoint Church, Fairview Community Recreation Center, Anchorage Church of Christ, Muldoon Community Assembly and Z.J. Loussac Library. All of the sites accept drive-through and walk-up patients, and will be open Mondays, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Fridays, 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; and Saturdays, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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Regardless of whether it is a product of fresh perspectives or societal patterns by and large visitors choose sustainable tourism and would like to be responsible tourists. Alaska is a region where responsible tourism is mandatory.

Without much doubt one of the encouraged sightseeing for vacationers traveling to Alaska is

Glacier Bay National Park. Glacier Bay is found in southeast Alaska, approximately 60 air miles west of the state capitol of Juneau. The nearest city is Gustavus, Alaska situated 11 miles away. Glacier Bay National Park now encompasses more than 3 million acres, and is often described as one of the Crown Jewels of the National Park system. The Park offers snow-capped mountain ranges soaring to over 15,000 feet, seaside beaches with shielded coves, deep fjords, tidewater glaciers, coastal and estuarine waters, and freshwater ponds. Along with beautiful scenery, there are abundant wildlife viewing possibilities along with a wide variety of seabirds, sea and land mammals. Many visitors experience Glacier Bay National Park while on big cruise ships that visit the Park for the day, whereas others stay within the Park at the Glacier Bay Lodge. While there are no roads to Glacier Bay National Park, you will discover convenient air connections to Gustavus through Juneau, Skagway and Haines. Ferry service is also offered by Juneau. Through Gustavus it is about 10 miles by road to Glacier Bay Lodge & Tours situated at Bartlett cove and is home to the visitor center and departure point for day boat excursions to Glacier Bay National Park. Accommodations within Glacier Bay National Park are at the Glacier Bay Lodge. The hotel includes 56 rooms with dining, activities desk, gift shop, and the Park visitor center can be found upstairs. Just about all rooms have private bath and/or shower and can accommodate up to 4 guests. Glacier Bay Lodge is open mid-May to mid-September each year.

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Going To Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, America’s icebox