Alaska legislators end face mask mandate in Capitol

A woman on a desk holds up her mask with men around her taking off their masks too
Eagle River Republican Sen. Lora Reinbold waves her mask immediately after taking it off on Friday. The Legislative Council had voted to end a mask requirement in the Capitol. (Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO and Alaska Public Media)

Legislators and others in the Capitol are no longer required to wear face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The Legislative Council voted unanimously on Friday to replace the requirements with a more limited set of rules. Masks became optional, though there are exceptions if individual legislators require them in their offices. 

Soldotna Republican Senate President Peter Micciche was eager to address mask-policy opponent Sen. Lora Reinbold immediately after the vote.

“If I may, Senator Reinbold, you can remove your mask now,” Micciche said to laughter and applause from people in the room.

Lawmakers cited new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for fully vaccinated people in making the change. The new policy covers everyone in the Capitol, including those who are unvaccinated. The policy change also dropped a requirement that unvaccinated people undergo weekly tests for the coronavirus. The tests are now a recommendation. 

The Legislature hasn’t changed the rule closing the Capitol to members of the public. The building has been limited to lawmakers, legislative aides, news reporters and some state employees. 

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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.