As it prepares for holiday crowds amid COVID-19 outbreak, Seward council votes for restrictions

Seward Harbor (file photo)

In the midst of a coronavirus outbreak, the city of Seward is bracing for an influx of visitors for the holiday weekend. 

Almost 20 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Seward since June 26 prompting the chamber of commerce to cancel traditional Fourth of July events.

At an emergency meeting on Wednesday evening, the city council passed an ordinance including several measures designed to curb the spread of the virus. The ordinance limits city campgrounds to 50% capacity for out-of-town guests and requires facemasks inside public businesses where social distancing isn’t possible. It also reduces indoor seating capacity to 10 people or 50% capacity, whichever is greater. And, it limits the size of any gathering to 20 people. 

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Normally, about 30,000 people descend on the town of about 3,000 during the holiday,  according to Kat Sorensen, a spokesperson for the Seward Chamber of Commerce.

This year, the city is expecting fewer visitors. And many businesses have closed their doors or modified their services temporarily to prevent the spread of the virus. Sorenson said most are restaurants but not all. 

“Some retailers have moved towards requiring masks inside their buildings, but not many of them have closed their doors,” she said. 

Kenai Fjords Tours also announced a 10-day suspension of its operations, which KTUU reported is a result of two positive coronavirus tests among team members.  

Still, Sorensen encouraged people to visit Seward. 

“If you decide to come down, just take into account the things that are going on in town here in the, in the bigger, broader areas well as wear a mask, wash your hands, keep socially distancing and take into account everything that’s happening,”  she said. 

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The city previously cancelled all Fourth of July events, including the Mount Marathon Race, the parade, and fireworks displays.