Dunleavy says Alaska is in a better position than other states to reopen some businesses

A screenshot of Governor Mike Dunleavy and Cheif Medical Officer Anne Zink from a press briefing broadcast by the governor’s office on Monday, March 30, 2020.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy said on Wednesday that Alaska is in a better position than other states to reopen hair salons, nail shops and tattoo parlors.

Dunleavy made the comments on the same day that President Donald Trump said he disagreed with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to reopen similar businesses.

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Trump said he strongly disagreed with Kemp and that opening salons would violate the federal guidelines on the first phase of reopening.

Dunleavy noted that Alaska has fewer cases and more hospital capacity than some other states.

“This is a road not traveled for some time, in the past 100 years. And so we’re going to watch it carefully,” he said. “But we think we have the ability, we think with Alaskans’ help, we will keep our numbers low. Again, if there’s a spike, we’ll deal with that accordingly.”

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink talked about the information that went into the decision to open these personal care businesses. She said she’s talked with her counterparts in other states about which businesses they are opening and how they are doing it.

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Zink said frequently cleaning surfaces and washing hands will be particularly important for these businesses, as will wearing face coverings.

“I don’t think there’s any way to protect all Alaskans 100 percent from anything,” she said. “And we are just doing our best with the information and data we have.”

Zink noted that it’s her job to give health guidance while Dunleavy’s team and Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum will fill in how health mandates should change.

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Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at akitchenman@alaskapublic.org.