ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska is giving people who travel to the state the option to be tested for COVID-19 rather than having to quarantine for 14 days.
The changes take effect Saturday, and Gov. Mike Dunleavy said state officials will continue watching case counts in evaluating the policy, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
The state has had a requirement in place that travelers from out of state, including residents returning from trips, quarantine for two weeks when they get to Alaska. Under the new plan, the 14-day quarantine remains an option.
Travelers are urged to get tested no more than 72 hours before leaving for Alaska and provide results of any negative tests. If that is not feasible, travelers can get tested within five days of coming to Alaska and must produce the result of negative tests. They will be asked to be tested again when they arrive.
Travelers also can get tested when they arrive in the state and quarantine at their own expense while awaiting the results. They will get a voucher for a second test within seven to 14 days after arrival.
Anyone testing positive will be asked to isolate at their own expense and not travel until they receive medical clearance.
Alaska residents with out-of-state trips of five or fewer days will be given the option to undergo testing or a 14-day quarantine.
Dunleavy said the state will continue relying on voluntary compliance with the quarantine rules.
“It doesn’t make any sense, and it never had made any sense from a lot of our perspectives, to threaten Alaskans to do something,” he said. “We don’t believe that that works.”
Adam Crum, state health department commissioner, said officials want people to have the chance to visit Alaska but also want them to be prepared for circumstances surrounding the virus.
State officials have credited relatively low case numbers in allowing businesses to reopen. The state has reported more than 500 total cases of COVID-19 involving residents, with 10 deaths.
The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death