JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The mayor of Anchorage signed an order Monday closing gyms and entertainment venues and barring restaurants, bars and other establishments from offering dine-in service to the public through the rest of March amid concerns over the new coronavirus.
The order, signed by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, also would close self-serve buffets and salad bars. The order would not apply to drive-thrus or take out or delivery services. Grocery stores would remain open, according to a release from his office.
The restrictions take effect at 5 p.m. Monday and extend through March 31. Dine-in service for food or beverages at bars, breweries and restaurants will be barred during that time, the mayor’s office said. Entertainment venues, which his office said includes theaters, gyms and bingo halls, will be closed during that time.
Gatherings of at least 50 people in Anchorage also will be prohibited, though the order states this does not apply to the day-to-day operations of organizations such as businesses, universities or daycares that are not already subject to closure.
“By making sacrifices now, we reduce the likelihood that we will pay a larger cost later,” Berkowitz said in a release.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy said he has not yet felt the need to enact such restrictions statewide. If someone who lives in Alaska tests positive, “we would then give serious consideration to limiting the ability for folks to go to restaurants, movie theaters, etc., statewide. We’re not there yet.”
Late Monday, Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, said two men in the Fairbanks area tested positive for the virus after traveling in the Lower 48, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
These would bring to three the number of reported cases in Alaska. State officials last week said a man, described as a foreign national on a cargo flight, had tested positive.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
On Monday, House Speaker Bryce Edgmon asked Dunleavy’s administration to work with the Legislature to consider “any and all proposals” to address economic effects of COVID-19. Dunleavy told reporters the administration is taking the economic impacts seriously, with more details expected in the coming days.
Last week, the University of Alaska announced an extension of spring break to give faculty time to develop alternative ways to provide classes. Students generally are expected to take courses remotely for the rest of the spring semester, starting March 23.
State education Commissioner Michael Johnson on Friday said K-12 students would not attend school through March 27 and that districts during that time would work on plans for remote-delivery of schooling should that become necessary.
The department of education Monday said residential school programs should begin returning students to their families and home communities. Residential school staff would work on plans to remotely deliver classes through the end of the school year, the department said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Dan Sullivan’s annual address to state lawmakers, which was scheduled for Tuesday, has been cancelled. Sullivan spokesman Mike Anderson said a break in the U.S. Senate calendar that would have allowed Sullivan to be in Alaska was canceled.
The Alaska Legislature has restricted access to the state Capitol in response to virus concerns.