Anchorage to further ease coronavirus restrictions for businesses Monday

The Municipality of Anchorage plans to further ease coronavirus restrictions on businesses like bars and gyms on Monday, allowing them to reopen, following a similar move by the state government that went into effect Friday.

Anchorage has transitioned from its “hunkering down” phase, which closed most nonessential businesses in March, to its current “easing” phase that allowed restaurants to reopen for dine-in service, with capacity and social-distancing restrictions.

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Municipal officials said in a press conference Friday the next step is what the municipality calls its “recovery” phase. That’s set to begin at 8 a.m. Monday and will allow gyms and fitness centers, and entertainment venues like bars, bowling alleys and bingo halls, to open to 25 percent capacity. Dine-in service at restaurants is also allowed to expand to 50 percent capacity.

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Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said Friday that the gradual reopening of Anchorage’s economy has lagged slightly behind that of the state, because the municipality requires a plan that is tailored to its unique characteristics.

And Berkowitz warned that while epidemiologists have indicated low rates of infection and adequate capacity at medical facilities, a spike in cases could cause restrictions to be reinstated.

“Any indication that the disease, which is still out there, is starting to cause a lot of infection in our community, we’ll have no choice but to retreat to a time of hunkering down,” Berkowitz said.

To avoid that, Berkowitz said, Anchorage residents need to continue doing a good job of washing hands, wearing masks and staying six feet apart from anyone not in their household.

A detailed plan and guidelines for Anchorage businesses is available at the municipality’s coronavirus response page.