City of Fairbanks announces changes being made in response to the coronavirus

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The City of Fairbanks has announced a series of changes being made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Matherly encourages residents to source their information about the virus from reputable sources, utilize social distancing, telemedicine, and self-quarantine if exhibiting symptoms consistent with the coronavirus. (KTVF)

In a press release, City Hall urged residents to turn to online and over-the-phone solutions with regards to making citation and garbage payments. Fees for payments made by phone have been suspended.

Additionally, the Fairbanks Police and Fire Departments are closing the buildings to tours, and suspending ride-alongs until further notice. Residents are encouraged to file police reports online using the “Police2Citizen” option, or by calling 907-450-6500 for more information.

“The Fairbanks Fire Department, the Fairbanks Police Department, often encounter the most vulnerable of our citizens,” City of Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly said during an online video interview. “We want to keep the public safe, we also want the employees to stay safe.” He refers to an incident from the previous week where an FFD employee was sent home after exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Thankfully, the employee’s test results returned negative.

City employees returning from out-of-state are also being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to work; and although City Hall is not closed to the public as of yet, all public meetings have been canceled until March 31, excluding a City Council meeting on March 30.

The press release also responded to inquiries regarding whether or not the mayor would consider action similar to Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s emergency order which, with some exceptions, shut down bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters, and other venues hosting large groups, and banned gatherings of 50 or more people.

“I have the same authority,” said Mayor Matherly, “However, I don’t have that authority in the borough. There are many, many bars and restaurants that sit right outside the city limits in the borough…for health reasons, I did not want to push patrons of those local bars and restaurants in the city limits out to the borough ones and cause people to be in close quarters…to increase the risk of people being close together like that, we would have bombarded those businesses. So, I chose not to because of health reasons.”

The mayor says he is deferring to the governor’s authority to undertake that action if necessary. If restaurants are closed, however, the mayor says that they should be able to continue delivering food.

“All we can do at this point is reduce the risk so we don’t move from three cases in the state to north of that,” the mayor said. He pointed out that he and his staff are diffusing their work locations: some working from home, and some continuing to work at City Hall but confining themselves to their offices.

Mayor Matherly encourages residents to source their information about the virus from reputable sources, utilize social distancing, telemedicine, and self-quarantine if exhibiting symptoms consistent with the coronavirus.

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