The Department of Health and Social Services outlined new details Thursday for the recently revised health mandate regulating travel into and around the state.
Up until recently, travelers from out of state were encouraged to undergo a COVID-19 test within 72-hours of departure for Alaska but if an individual was unable to receive a test in their home state, they could obtain a free test at the Alaska airport in which they arrived.
Now, beginning next Tuesday, out-of-state travelers will be required to provide proof of a negative test upon arrival in Alaska and if they are unable to produce such a result, they will be charged $250 to obtain a test at the airport.
Alaskan residents traveling by air between communities or coming back to Alaska will still be able to obtain an airport test for free.
Additionally, both resident and nonresident travelers will also now be required to fill out a three-question self-isolation plan in the Alaska Travel Portal, detailing how they plan to isolate if they test positive for COVID-19 while in the state, according to a release from the health department Thursday.
All travelers coming into the state will also be required to practice strict social distancing for 14 days after arriving into Alaska, or until a second negative result is obtained from a molecular-based SARS-CoV2 test taken between 7-14 days after arriving into Alaska. It remains unclear how the state plans to enforce this part of the new policy.
The shift in policy and new testing fee for nonresidents traveling to Alaska was made as an effort to consolidate and reserve testing resources for Alaska residents, Gov. Mike Dunleavy told reporters earlier this week.
Health Commissioner Adam Crum reiterated the message in a statement Thursday.
“These revisions are intended to prioritize and conserve our resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while still allowing travel to occur,” Crum said. “Travel is essential to Alaska’s well-being but by strongly incentivizing testing before travel for nonresidents, we expect to reduce the number of travelers who test positive for COVID-19 after arriving into our state. This will allow us to direct resources to where they are needed most, and will also allow us to offer testing for intrastate travelers to help protect our rural communities.”
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.