Red Dog Mine employees permitted to return to home communities

The Red Dog Mine in 2010. (Alaska Public Media file photo)

After being kept away from their communities due to coronavirus concerns, Red Dog Mine employees have been allowed to return home. 

In March, shortly after COVID-19 health mandates began in the state, flights were suspended from the mine in the Northwest Arctic Borough to surrounding communities. Mine workers were given the option to quarantine in Anchorage, where they could stay with family or use housing approved by the mining company, Teck Alaska Inc. Workers had the option to extend their shift rotations at the mine site, about 90 miles north of Kotzebue. 

This week, Teck announced that employees are allowed to return to their home communities under the conditions that they test negative for COVID-19 and adhere to local health protocols. 

RELATED: First positive coronavirus case reported in Kotzebue

The change comes as the Northwest Arctic Borough began slowly lifting its “hunker down” mandate. Intrastate travel between communities is now permitted for critical and necessary travel. That includes traveling for health purposes, subsistence, child custody and obtaining goods not available locally. 

Additionally, restaurants in the Northwest Arctic Borough can begin allowing dine-in services, however it can only be by reservation. Walk-in dining is prohibited. Restaurants are limited to ten customers for dining indoors.

To date, there has been one positive case of COVID-19 in the Northwest Arctic Borough.