Alaska has relaxed in-state travel rules and set new protocols for childcare, fitness and other businesses

Gretchen Boone flips through a picture book for an infant at the Gold Creek Child Development Center in Juneau on May 11, 2018. Boone is the center’s director. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has relaxed the ban on residents’ in-state travel, with limits, as part of an array of revised health mandates unveiled this week, aimed at cautiously reviving the economy.

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As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold last month, Dunleavy barred non-essential travel between Alaska communities to prevent the spread of the disease. Trips between Anchorage and towns on the Kenai Peninsula, for example, were not allowed.

With the number of new cases falling, Dunleavy’s administration announced a revised travel mandate Thursday as part of Phase 1-A of its “Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan.” Under the revised restrictions, household members are allowed to drive between communities for “any purpose,” including, but not limited to, recreation or sightseeing.

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The new guidelines call for families to minimize stops, and they only allow one traveler, wearing a mask, to interact with vendors at stores or gas stations.

“Travelers who have to stop shall wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before exiting, and immediately after returning, to the car or vehicle,” the new mandate said.

It also allows members of different households to recreate together as long as groups practice social distancing, drive in separate cars, wear masks and stick to fewer than 20 people, among other restrictions.

Dunleavy’s new mandates also lay out required procedures that will allow for the resumption of outdoor gym and fitness classes (indoor activity is still barred), chartered fishing boats, “personal care services” like barbers, nails salons and tattoo shops, dine-in restaurants, retail stores and non-essential businesses that don’t interact with the public. They also include new rules for day camps and childcare.

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“We greatly appreciate Alaskans’ voluntary participation and partnership as we navigate through this process of responsibly reopening the state’s economy,” Dunleavy said in a prepared statement. “Alaskans are independent people who come together in times of need – and this is a shining example of that.”

Read all of Alaska Public Media’s coronavirus coverage here.

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