Furthering our UK-Arctic Coronavirus Observatory, we are now compiling all of the relevant, up-to-date COVID-19 information pertaining to Alaska’s up-to-date measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
On 14 February 2021, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Chief Medical Officer of Alaska released a joint health advisory on their recommendations to keep the people of Alaska safe. These recommendations are not legally mandated, but rather reinforce the need for individual responsibility by every Alaskan to stop the spread of the virus. The advisory recommends the following:
Social distancing: Maintain social distance (6ft) between members outside of one’s own household. Avoid gatherings indoors, even when social distancing can be maintained, as the virus spreads more easily in less-ventilated areas.
Face masks: Wear a 2-layer face covering which covers both the mouth and nose when out in public. This is recommended to all individuals over the age of 2. Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser upon removing the mask to prevent possible contamination.
Symptoms: Should one develop symptoms, get tested immediately and avoid contact with others. Seek possible medical attention should someone over 65 or with medical conditions test positive. If you test positive or come into close contact with a positive case, regardless of symptoms, one must isolate and get tested immediately.
International travel (as of 26 April 2021): As outlined in Health Advisory 2, Alaska does not require Covid-19 testing for international arrivals. However it is recommended that non-vaccinated arrivals make use of free testing facilities at all major ports across the state. Alaska also offers free vaccinations to non-residents over the age of 12 travelling into the state, as of July 1st 2021. To make use of the free test/vaccination offer, book online here. In the event of displaying a positive test upon arrival, you must isolate at your own expense for 5 days, assuming you no longer have a fever 24 hours prior to ending isolation. Those who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 within the 90 days prior to travel (and have fully recovered) are recommended to not make use of testing upon their arrival into Alaska. If travelling internationally through Canada or the United States, please note quarantine and testing procedures may be required. If an individual is fully-vaccinated, they are not required to self-quarantine upon arrival into Alaska. An individual is classed as fully-vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose in a two-dose series (e.g. Pfizer) or two weeks after their single dose in a single-dose series (e.g. Johnson and Johnson).However, this is subject to change.
Interstate travel (as of 26 April 2021): As outlined in Health Advisory 3, Alaska does not restrict interstate travel. These freedoms are in place in order to protect the rights of individuals and workers travelling fluidly across the state. Nevertheless, caution is advised when travelling from to and from regions where infection rates are surging. For more information on regional infection rates, click here. For individuals who are unvaccinated and choose not to test before or after travelling, it is recommended to self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival at one’s new destination. Should this not be possible, it is recommended to maintain social distancing and mask wearing when around others. To see the latest CDC information on isolation periods in regards to the Omicron variant, click here.
Critical infrastructure: Employers are encouraged to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in the workplace according to the minimum requirements outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). However, these mitigations are not legally-binding. For organisations who do not implement mitigation strategies to prevent the spread of Covid-19, business owners must be aware of the possible health and economic impacts an outbreak could cause for their business. As of health-advisories 2 and 3, all travel deemed essential for critical needs will continue. This includes, but is not limited to, child visitations and military relocation. For more information, including quarantine procedures for critical infrastructure workers, click here and here.
Economic measures: In March 2020, Alaska announced the creation of the Alaska Economic Stabilisation Team (AEST) and Governor Dunleavy’s 6-point stabilisation plan to support the state. The AEST was a community-led group intended to focus on communicating with the general public and offering services based on community feedback. These consisted of, but were not limited to:
Monthly stimulus packages
Unemployment benefits raised and extended
Waiver for the SNAP programme, whereby a federal plan to remove food assistance for 5,000 Alaskans could be reversed.
Temporary housing and rental vouchers
Alaska’s initially successful handling of the pandemic meant they were able to create their Plan Forward, intended to reopen the economy safely. As of Friday 22nd May, Alaska shifted to phase 3/4 and the economy reopened. COVID-19 mitigation responsibilities were placed on the shoulders of individual businesses with measures such as mask-wearing and social-distancing.
Alaska also received federal support from the United States government, more of which can be read about on the IMF website.
Haroon Faqir is a Global Leadership Fellow at Polar Research and Policy Initiative. He is part of the PRPI team behind the UK-Arctic Coronavirus Observatory, and serves as the lead for Finland and United States.