Dunleavy eases in-state travel restrictions, issues health mandate on commercial fishing vessels

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy Thursday eased restrictions on intrastate travel and released a new health mandate aimed at the commercial fishing industry in the battle against the novel coronavirus.

Dunleavy eased the rules first laid out in Health Mandate 12, which restricted non-essential intrastate travel. Alaskans are now allowed to travel within the state, on the road system, for outdoor recreation.

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum said Alaskans may recreate outdoors on day trips as long as no more than 20 people are in a group. Alaskans still need to keep their distance from recreation companions that are not a part of their household.

While state campgrounds are closed, Gov. Dunleavy said private campgrounds and RV parks are allowed to operate.

“We hope you go camping. We want you to go and visit this state.,” Dunleavy said. “And unfortunately for us because of this pandemic, we might not get a lot of visitors to the state of Alaska. That could be a silver lining in that you Alaskans get to own Alaska this year, and this could be the opportunity to see see parts of Alaska that you’ve never experienced before.”

Gyms and fitness classes will be allowed to hold some outdoor activities and classes as well, Dunleavy said. And Guidelines for daycares and child day camps will be part of the new clarifications.

The reason for easing the restriction to only road-system travel, Dunleavy said, is that off-road communities have less capacity for healthcare.

Which businesses are in “Phase 2” of the governor’s plan to reopen Alaska will depend on how reopening the economy goes, Dunleavy said.

“We cannot hunker down indefinitely,” Dunleavy said. “There’s no precedent in history for an economy… to just say we’re going to switch it off, to put it into a coma, and then when? And nobody finishes that question. When what? When nobody else gets infected? When the numbers are at a certain level? There’s an understanding that there will be infections, there will be increased cases.”

“We do take advice, but we’re going to let the metrics and the science guide our decisions,” Dunleavy said.

Fishing charters will also be allowed to operate at either 25 percent of their licensed capacity, or members of just one household. For example, Crum said, a six-pack charter operator could take two customers out, rounding up from the 1.5 "people" that are 25 percent of their six-person limit.

Numerous small communities that find themselves at the center of Alaska’s seafood industry had requested the governor take action.

Health Mandate 17 requires independent fishing captains to take a number of precautions on the vessels and with their crew. Crew members traveling to the fishing grounds from outside of Alaska are required to wear face masks on airplanes, and to self-quarantine for 14 days when they arrive. If their fishing vessel must depart during this time, the quarantine may continue, but all crew members begin a 14-day quarantine again.

Fishing vessels with crew members in quarantine must fly a Lima black and yellow flag, and limit interactions with other vessels. Read the full appendix above.

The updated text of Mandate 12, regarding intrastate travel, has not yet been posted to the state’s Health Mandate site as of the time of publication.

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