Acting Anchorage Austin Quinn-Davidson announced on Friday that the city will expand the veil rules and limit the size of assemblies to combat the record increase in COVID-19 cases. Quinn-Davidson said the city is hiring three staff members to assist businesses in enforcing the restrictions. Officers, she said, will respond to complaints about noncompliance and conduct on-site inspections.
The new order takes effect at 8am on Monday
The first change is to update the urban’s existing masking order, removing most exceptions to the requirement that the administration says would make it easier to enforce.
The update says:
- People who cannot wear masks for medical reasons or with disabilities must wear a face shield instead.
- Children over five years old will be included in the order of masks, unless they are in preschool program. In the past, children under the age of 12 were exempt from an order unless a parent or caregiver was present to supervise mask use.
- Everyone who exercises indoors must now wear masks.
The second change further restricts the collection size:
- Indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people with food or drink and 15 people if they don’t.
- Outdoor gatherings with food or drinks are limited to 20 people and 30 people are not.
The municipality has also limited the capacity of classrooms in public and private schools to 50%. Storage limits are based on fire code capacity, by city.
“The order does not require the class sizes to be cut in half. The metric is not the number of children typically assigned to the classroom, but how large classroom space is, ”said an email from city spokesperson Carolyn Hall.
Quinn-Davidson said the city was working with the Anchorage School District on the new restriction. ASD spokesman Alan Brown said in an email that it would not interfere with the district’s current plan to bring young students back to buildings on Nov. 16. The elementary classes are different, but generally based on fire and code building, they range from 45 to 50 people.
It’s not clear what the new rules will mean for private schools. Some leaders of private schools where face-to-face learning is taking place said they had just learned about the new restrictions on Friday afternoon and are still trying to figure them out.
“We don’t have any uplifting alerts,” said Randy Karlberg, director of Grace Christian School. “We have to look at it.”
Capacity restrictions in places of worship or political expression, restaurants, theaters and bingo rooms are still limited to 50 percent.
Chris Anderson, president of Glacier Brewhouse in the city center, said the emergency order should be like any other regulation businesses adhere to.
“We have health rules … We have alcohol regulations … we have building codes, where we check them, we have a lot of these rules,” he said. . “I think it’s time to do it because what we are trying to do is keep the business running and have a healthy community.”
Quinn-Davidson emphasizes that the missions are meant to keep Anchorage’s economy growing by keeping businesses open while also working to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.
“When the COVID is high, people don’t want to get sick, and they don’t want their loved ones to get sick either. So they started to withdraw from supporting the local economy, ”she said. “We must control our COVIDs now to save lives and support our businesses.
Last week, the government and the Anchorage Health Department issued a warning that people should attach importance to wearing masks and stay away from society as the average 14-day case rate rose to 40 per 100,000 residents, much higher. by the state’s high risk threshold, which is 10 per 100,000.
This week, the 14-day average increased even more to 60 cases per 100,000 people.
“We are hearing hospital executives worry that a spike in cases threatens their ability to provide critical care beds,” Quinn-Davidson said. “If that happens, not only COVID-19 patients will not be taken care of. Anyone in our community can be turned away. “
She added that if the community does not notice a sufficient decrease in the number of cases within a few weeks, Anchorage is headed for “significant constraints”.
Alaska Public Media’s Tegan Hanlon contributed to this report.