JUNEAU Alaska (AP) — The traditional holiday open house at the governor’s mansion in Juneau won’t be held this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, a spokesperson for Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Tuesday.
Spokesperson Jeff Turner, by email, said the pandemic “has fundamentally changed how Alaskans will observe the holidays. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the community of Juneau, the decision has been made to cancel this year’s holiday open house.”
The mansion in years past has opened to the public for the event, with the governor, and often the lieutenant governor, and their spouses greeting people as they file through the decorated house en route to a room filled with cookies and other treats.
The holiday-season tradition began in 1913 and was held every year except for two years during World War II, the governor’s office has said.
Dunleavy last month asked Alaskans to “consider celebrating differently” during the holidays.
The state has reported more than 36,700 resident cases of COVID-19, and 145 related deaths. The state health department said Monday an earlier reported backlog of 1,600 cases has been added to a public online dashboard.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.