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People entering Alaska by land and sea must follow the state’s travel policy. Here are the rules.

was written by Kavitha George, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage , 2020-06-23 23:53:41

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The state ferry Tazlina docked near the site of the proposed cruise dock in Ketchikan. (Eric Stone/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

Travelers entering Alaska by land or sea from out of state are required to complete COVID-19 testing procedures and travel declaration forms, state officials said on Saturday. 

The requirements have already been in place for about two weeks in several Alaska airports.

“We wanted to make sure we have a process for those travelers that come over land or by sea to comply with Health Mandate 10,” said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, referring to the mandate that interstate and international travel.

“Give them good information,” he said, “and give them the resources that they need to be in compliance with these necessary health precautions.”

RELATED: The state has revised its two-week quarantine requirement. Here’s what we know about the changes.

Zideck said the state is anticipating more people driving over the border and landing in ports over the summer months. 

Here’s what they can expect:

Driving into Alaska

Travelers taking a car or boat into Alaska will have similar rules to those taking a flight, though ferry travel has stricter requirements. 

Incoming travelers have to quarantine for two weeks once they get here. Or, to bypass that requirement, they can bring a negative result from a test taken within three days of their departure. The third option is to test upon arrival and quarantine until a negative result comes back.

RELATED: Your questions about traveling through Canada, answered

Zidek said travelers driving into Haines, Skagway or Beaver Creek will receive a travel declaration form to note which option they’re choosing. They’ll also get a testing voucher from US Customs and Border Patrol. Forms can be submitted by email, and travelers will then be contacted with follow-up information and testing instructions, said Zidek.

A restriction on non-essential travel across the border remains in place until July 21.

Sailing into Alaska

Maritime port procedures vary between communities. 

According to the Emergency Operations Center, some communities are considering mobile screening facilities, while others are relying on harbormasters to direct incoming vessels to testing sites. 

Zidek said similar to land travelers, mariners will be given travel declaration forms and testing vouchers, and pointed to their nearest testing site. The EOC recommends checking in with local harbormasters before arrival to understand local screening and testing requirements.

Both land and sea travelers can submit qualifying COVID-19 negative test results ahead of time by emailing [email protected] A negative test within three to five days of departure must be followed up with a second test upon entering the state. No second test is required if the traveler can produce a negative test within 72 hours of departure. The EOC recommends traveling with copies of travel declaration forms and testing results.

Out-of-state travelers who cannot or choose not to be tested are required to complete a 14-day quarantine and fill out a travel declaration form upon arrival in Alaska.

Traveling by ferry

With ferry service from the Lower 48 scheduled to resume this week, the Alaska Marine Highway System has also implemented new protocols that it says will protect against the spread of coronavirus on its vessels.

Passengers on Alaska’s mainline ferries — the Kennicott, Matanuska and Tustumena — must get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of traveling. Passengers on shorter-haul voyages aboard the LeConte and Lituya will be asked to sign a screening form instead, attesting they’ve had no symptoms and have not traveled to an infected area without social distancing.

“We understand that testing can be a challenge, but for the safety of crew and passengers it is really important that we do everything possible to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Meadow Bailey wrote in a statement. 

“If we have one positive person on board,” she wrote, “vessels and crews have to be pulled out of service. In addition to mitigating the spread of COVID-19, we also need to have a dependable system.”

RELATED: Tustumena crew member tests positive for COVID-19, passengers quarantined

Passengers and crew will also not be allowed on shore during port calls and will only disembark at their final destination. And, with some exceptions, passengers 2 years and older will be required to cover their faces on all vessels unless they are in a stateroom, a smoking area or eating.

Whether traveling by land, sea or air, it’s primarily on the traveler to follow through with screening procedures, said Zidek.

“We are trying to educate Alaskans so they can recognize that complying with the mandates are really in their best interest (and) in the best interest of their friends and family members in their community,” he said.

Zidek said they’ve seen an “overwhelming” willingness from travelers to comply with health mandates. Currently, the state doesn’t have numbers on how many people have been screened entering Alaska by land and sea.

CoastAlaska’s Jacob Resneck contributed to this report.

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A Trip To Alaska, the Last Frontier

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My favorite spots for absolutely everyone going to Alaska is

Gates of the Arctic National Park. It encompasses an eye popping 8 million acres of isolated wilds situated above the Arctic Circle. There are absolutely no roads or even hiking trails into the park. Air taxi service is offered from the communities of Bettles, Coldfoot and Kotzebue. The park can also be reachable by foot from the Dalton Highway. This glorious national park features untouched wilderness, glacier valleys, rugged mountains and miles of arctic tundra. In order to experience the wonders the park has to offer visitors should be ready for hiking, and backcountry camping. Visitors ought to be self-sufficient and experienced, as there are no services or established trails available. Daring visitors may value the solitude and the discovery of authentic wilderness found in the Gates of the Arctic National Park.