Alaska Capitol

A new set of guidelines released by the state of Alaska outlines the final phase of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s plan to reopen the state following approximately two months of health mandates limiting businesses and social gatherings to stem the spread of COVID-19. Dunleavy told reporters Tuesday he felt it was time to open the state fully. 

This means that phases three and four of the plan to reopen the state have been combined. The governor issued his phase one plan last month. Two weeks later he issued phase two plans.

It has been one week since the implementation of the phase two guidelines opening bars, gyms and other entertainment businesses to 25% capacity and increasing the restaurant and other business capacity allowance to 50%. 

This final phase allows all businesses, churches, sports activities, libraries and museums and recreational activities to open to full capacity at 8 a.m. Friday. 

State residents are still encouraged to wash hands regularly, observe physical distancing, wear masks or cloth face coverings when in crowded areas, sanitize regularly used surfaces, avoid mass gatherings and avoid others when ill, but Dunleavy mentioned to reporters that he is relaxing these from mandates to guidelines, essentially leaving it up to Alaskans to decide whether they want to observe these protective measures. 

Previous guidelines for reopening certain business sectors included strict instructions for how businesses were to operate if they wanted to be allowed to operate. This included required face coverings for all workers, required daily or hourly sanitation of regularly touched surfaces and capacity limits, among others. 

No such instructions were included in the final phase guidelines allowing these facilities to open entirely. 

“It’s the responsibility of individuals, businesses, and organizations to minimize the spread of COVID-19. We encourage all to follow local, state, national, and industry guidelines on ways to conduct business and activities safely,” the most recent guidelines outlined. 

The state has not issued or mentioned any plan for enforcement of safety measures. 

A full copy of the final reopening phase guidelines can be found at www.bit.ly/2Zq9PO2.

A number of health mandates remain in place, including the requirement for all those traveling from out of state to self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. The governor extended this mandate until June 2 last week. Additionally, senior centers, long-term care facilities and prisons will continue to restrict access to vulnerable populations.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.