Anchorage shuts down indoor service at bars, restaurants

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A new emergency order in Anchorage will stop indoor service at restaurants and breweries, restrict gathering sizes and require people to work from home if possible to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz announced Friday that the order would go into effect Monday and will last until Aug. 30.

“By waiting for four weeks, we should see be able to judge whether these measures are helping to reduce transmission or whether we need to do additional steps,” Anchorage Health Department Medical Officer Bruce Chandler said.

The newest regulation requires bars and nightclubs be closed except to provide takeout or delivery service. The order also limits indoor gatherings to 15 people and outdoor gatherings with food and drinks to 25 people. Outdoor gatherings without food and drinks are limited to 50 people.

Berkowitz also extended the city mask mandate requiring face coverings for all indoor and outdoor gatherings.

In the last week, health officials reported an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases. Anchorage had 494 confirmed COVID-19 cases this week, up from 187 cases the week before.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Anchorage opened five new testing site locations around the city, including at two churches and a library. Municipal manager Bill Falsey said all of the new locations are free and do not require a doctor referral.

“We’re encouraging anyone with even mild symptoms, or who thinks they may have been exposed to go to those sites to get COVID tested. We’ll also test people who are asymptomatic if they feel like they have been exposed,” he said.

The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, but can also be detected in people without symptoms. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
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