ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage will lift its coronavirus-related capacity restrictions on many businesses and will ease limits on other places where people gather under a new emergency order set to take effect on Monday.
City officials announced the changes Thursday, saying retailers, bars, restaurants and other businesses will have their capacity restrictions eliminated, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Requirements for wearing masks and maintaining distance will remain in effect.
The businesses must operate in ways that allow consumers to stay six feet (two meters) apart from people outside of their households.
Indoor gatherings with food and beverages will be allowed to have 25 people while indoor gatherings without food or drinks can have up to 35 people. Previously, up to 10 were allowed with food or beverage around, and up to 15 people without food or drinks.
Outdoor gatherings with food and drink will be permitted to have to 60 people, and the same gatherings without food or drink can have up to 100 people. That doubles the prior allowances.
Entertainment venues such as theaters will be allowed to operate at full capacity as long as patrons wear masks. Groups of people must stay six feet (two meters) apart.
Gyms and fitness centers will have no capacity restrictions, but masks and social distancing will remain mandated.
Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson’s announcement came about a week after pressure was exerted by some Assembly members to remove capacity restrictions and rescind Anchorage’s mask mandate.
City officials cited a decline in cases and an increasing number of vaccinations for easing the restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
“We all know that this pandemic will not end overnight, or with the stroke of a pen,” Quinn-Davidson said Thursday.
Coronavirus case rates in the city are about similar to what they were in early fall of 2020, a period that preceded a major spike in cases that threatened the city’s healthcare capacity.
About 65,000 people in Anchorage, a municipality of nearly 289,000 people, have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The vaccine was a factor into lifting the 50% capacity limit on local schools as a part of the new order, Quinn-Davidson said.
The limitation on school capacity was instituted in November, when virus cases were rising and no vaccine had been approved by the federal government.