ANCHORAGE — Tuesday Mayor Berkowitz issued Emergency Order EO-06, which updates and extends previous emergency orders. Emergency Order EO-06 includes an updated version of the Hunker Down Order (EO-03), and extends the order to 11:59 p.m. on May 5. Emergency Order EO-02, which preserved personal protective equipment (PPE) and prohibited certain non-urgent medical procedures, is extended until 11:59 p.m. on April 19, at which time it will be updated with a new order that allows for many elective medical procedures to resume. Emergency Order EO-04, which waived bag fees, is extended until 11:59 p.m. on June 5, and now also allows businesses to temporarily provide customers with plastic bags.
Public health experts advise that COVID-19 continues to pose a significant risk to the health and safety of Anchorage residents. The virus still spreads easily from person to person, and causes significant health complications and even death among a relatively high number of patients. Immediately removing physical distancing restrictions would likely result in a surge of COVID-19 cases that overwhelms Anchorage’s expanded health care capacity.
The Municipality and health care providers have made progress in preparing for and slowing the spread of COVID-19. The Municipality has increased its contact tracing capacity, collected PPE, and worked with the State and hospitals to increase hospital bed availability. Evidence suggests that by staying at home as much as possible, Anchorage residents are flattening the curve.
Recognizing the progress that has been made, the new order begins the process of easing restrictions. The temporary moratorium on elective procedures successfully increased the supply of PPE available to health care workers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the Municipality is working in coordination with the State to allow for many elective medical procedures to resume.
Further loosening of restrictions will require Anchorage to have robust capacity to test residents, conduct contact tracing, and treat patients. The Municipality is working with public health experts to develop and implement a strategy to loosen restrictions in a manner that is safe and timely.
“Anchorage has done a great job responding to this crisis” said Mayor Berkowitz. “We hunkered down and are saving lives. Our work is not done; the virus is still out there. But we know that if we stay disciplined and maintain physical distancing and good hygiene, we will be able to keep easing restrictions and continue reopening the economy.”
The Hunker Down order includes updated guidance for businesses and individuals. The order:
- Prohibits businesses from knowingly permitting symptomatic employees or others likely to be contagious with COVID-19 from working outside the home.
- Mandates that businesses must allow and shall strongly encourage employees to wear cloth face-coverings or masks when around the public or in close proximity to other employees. The order strongly encourages individuals to wear a cloth face-covering or mask whenever in public.
- Allows up to two people to be inside a non-critical business that is closed to the public for the purposes of essential upkeep, site maintenance, performing payroll, or facilitating remote business operations or online order fulfillment through email or physical mail, assuming proper physical distancing measures can be accomplished. Non critical businesses may not operate via curbside or delivery service model at this time.
- Clarifies that farmer’s markets, food trucks, and landscapers are critical businesses.
- Allows sewing, quilting, and fabric stores to open for curbside pick-up and delivery.
- Updates the order to apply to everyone in Anchorage by mandating that everyone stay home as much as possible, and that home may include a residence, a temporary residence, or a shelter.
Emergency Order EO-04 allows businesses to temporarily provide customers with plastic bags because the pandemic has limited the supply of paper bags available to some critical businesses.