Travelers entering Alaska by land or sea from out of state are required to complete COVID-19 testing procedures and travel declaration forms, state officials said on Saturday.
The requirements have already been in place for about two weeks in several Alaska airports.
“We wanted to make sure we have a process for those travelers that come over land or by sea to comply with Health Mandate 10,” said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, referring to the mandate for interstate and international travel.
Zidek said the state is anticipating more people driving over the border and landing in ports over the summer months.
Here’s what they can expect:
Driving into Alaska
Travelers taking a car or boat into Alaska will have similar rules to those taking a flight, though ferry travel has stricter requirements.
Incoming travelers have to quarantine for two weeks once they get here. Or, to bypass that requirement, they can bring a negative result from a test taken within three days of their departure. The third option is to test upon arrival and quarantine until a negative result comes back.
Zidek said travelers driving into Haines, Skagway or Beaver Creek will receive a travel declaration form to note which option they’re choosing. They’ll also get a testing voucher from US Customs and Border Patrol.
Forms can be submitted by email, and travelers will then be contacted with follow-up information and testing instructions, Zidek said.
A restriction on non-essential travel across the border remains in place until July 21.
Sailing into Alaska
Maritime port procedures vary between communities.
According to the state Emergency Operations Center, some communities are considering mobile screening facilities, while others are relying on harbormasters to direct incoming vessels to testing sites.
Zidek said similar to land travelers, mariners will be given travel declaration forms and testing vouchers, and pointed to their nearest testing site. The EOC recommends checking in with local harbormasters before arrival to understand local screening and testing requirements.
A negative result from a test taken within three to five days of departure must be followed up with a second test upon entering the state. If travelers have a negative result from a test taken within 72 hours of departure, they’re supposed to take a second test between 7 and 14 days after arrival. The state recommends traveling with copies of travel declaration forms and testing results.
Travelers coming from out of state who cannot or choose not to be tested are required to complete a 14-day quarantine and fill out a travel declaration form upon arrival in Alaska.
Traveling by ferry
With ferry service from the Lower 48 scheduled to resume this week, the Alaska Marine Highway System has also implemented sweeping new protocols that it says will protect against the spread of coronavirus on its vessels.
Passengers departing from Bellingham, Wash., and headed to Alaska need to bring with them a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.
But passengers on short trips within the state are exempt from the testing requirement.
Also, passengers already in Alaska and on trips crossing the Gulf of Alaska, along the Aleutian Chain, including Kodiak, or headed to Bellingham have two options:
• They can bring a signed statement that confirms they’ve quarantined for two weeks before departure.
• They can bring a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within five days of departure.
Passengers and crew will also not be allowed on shore during port calls and will only disembark at their final destination. And, with some exceptions, passengers 2 years and older will be required to cover their faces on all vessels unless they are in a stateroom, a smoking area or eating.
Whether traveling by land, sea or air, it’s primarily on the traveler to follow through with screening procedures, Zidek said.
“We are trying to educate Alaskans so they can recognize that complying with the mandates are really in their best interest (and) in the best interest of their friends and family members in their community,” he said.
Zidek said they’ve seen an “overwhelming” willingness from travelers to comply with health mandates. Currently, the state doesn’t have numbers on how many people have been screened entering Alaska by land and sea.
CoastAlaska’s Jacob Resneck contributed to this report.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on June 25 after the Alaska Marine Highway System issued clarifications to its travel rules.