ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anyone flying to Alaska from another state or nation will have to self-quarantine for 14 days immediately after arriving, state officials said Monday as they announced four new cases of the coronavirus.
Officials also said all businesses, congregations or gatherings where people are within 6 feet of each other, like nail or hair salons or tattoo or massage businesses, must stop operations. Authorities said there should be no gatherings larger than 10 people, and social distancing must be implemented for the smaller gatherings, officials said at an early evening news conference. Both restrictions go into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The new mandates were announced as Alaska has steadily seen the number of cases of coronavirus increasing, a count that stood at 22 on Sunday.
“In the last 24 hours, we’re now up to 36 cases of infection of this virus and for the first time we have community spread, four individuals,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said.
The four cases, all in Anchorage, were travel related, said Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer.
The travel restrictions go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, health commissioner Adam Crum said.
Everyone arriving in Alaska must fill out a form saying where they will self-quarantine, which will be their next destination after the airport.
Residents will likely quarantine at their homes, but travelers or workers will quarantine in a hotel room or other rented lodging.
Failure to follow the guidelines could result in a fine of $25,000 and a year in jail.
If the worker supports critical infrastructure, such as a port employee or hospital worker, the employer must submit a plan to the state outlining what they are doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and not endanger lives.
In other coronavirus news in Alaska:
DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY CHANGES
The Alaska Democratic Party will hold its party-run presidential primary exclusively by mail and is moving back the deadlines for returning and tabulating ballots.
The party announced Monday it is canceling in-person voting sites planned for April 4 due to concerns with the coronavirus. But it is extending the deadline to return ballots by mail. Originally, ballots were to be postmarked by Tuesday. The party now says they must be received in Anchorage no later than April 10 to be counted.
Results are expected no later than just before midnight on April 11.
The party sent more than 71,000 registered Democrats ballots, which is seven times the number of people who participated in the 2016 caucuses, the party’s executive director, Lindsay Kavanaugh, said in a statement.
“We want to continue to allow for maximum participation in this historic primary while respecting the health and safety of our voters and volunteers,” she said.
Ballots also will be made available to download, the party said.
The primary is open only to registered Democrats.
KETCHIKAN CRUISE SHIPS
Ketchikan is considering whether to allow cruise ships to dock there while waiting out the global ocean cruise suspension because of the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
The Ketchikan City Council discussed allowing cruise operators to pay for space and services at its downtown berths during the nearly industry-wide suspension, The Ketchikan Daily News reported Saturday.
At least one cruise line approached the city about docking multiple ships at the berths, Ketchikan Port and Harbors Director Steve Corporon said.
Cruise Line International Association, accounting for 95% of the market, announced March 13 that its member lines planned to suspend cruises for 30 days.
“It’s kind of like 9/11 with the airplanes,” Corporon said. “The infrastructure wasn’t there to land all the airplanes at once. (It’s) similar here. The infrastructure isn’t in place to have all the cruise ships in port.”
The Canadian government announced port restrictions that could delay the Alaska cruise ship season until July 1.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. But for the elderly and people with existing conditions, it can cause more severe illness. The vast majority of those who are infected recover.
The city could take in between $1,700 to $2,800 daily per ship in docking fees. Additional costs depending on the needs of the ships could include drinking water and waste management.
Each ship would likely operate at least one electric generator or engine for power while docked. The largest cost estimate for the city to provide power was $10 million, Corporon said.
Additional port security would be required by under a U.S. Coast Guard plan, costing the city between $1,500 and $2,500 for personnel.
The ships would not be subject to commercial passenger vessel fees or port development fees because there would be no passengers.