Anchorage names bars and restaurants where patrons may have been exposed to COVID-19

Chilkoot Charlie’s is one of the largest bars on the list, though not associated with many cases. The city says two people known to be infected with COVID-19 visited in June. This photo is from a drive-in comedy show held in the parking lot in April. (Mayowa Aina/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage Department of Health has announced 19 locations in the municipality, Palmer and Seward where individuals infected with COVID-19 were confirmed to have “spent extended time” prior to testing positive.

Eight cases are connected to Anchorage Moose Lodge #1534 in Midtown.

Several of downtown’s most popular bars are on the list the city released Friday. Six infectious people are known to have visited the Panhandle Bar. Five went to The Gaslight, three to Williwaw and two to F Street Station. Humpy’s, the Pioneer and Bernie’s Bungalow were each visited by one, the city says.

Other Anchorage bars on the list are Chilkoot Charlie’s, the Cabin Tavern and Eddie’s Sports Bar. The state’s most famous strip club, the Great Alaskan Bush Company, was visited by an infected person, too.

The Gaslight is among the bars on the city’s list. This photo is from March, when bars across Anchorage closed. (Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

Among the establishments on the list is Matanuska Brewing’s Eagle River restaurant. Owner Matt Tomter said there’s no evidence the two infected people said to have visited his restaurant passed the virus to any other patron or worker. He described extensive measures his restaurants have taken to cut down on risk, starting with mandating masks and adding distance between tables.

“We have ultraviolet air scrubbers that turn through the air in the restaurant once an hour every hour that kill viruses. We sanitize everything all the time,” Tomter said. “I mean, there’s spray bottles of sanitizer in every location, every square inch of the place… I think we’ve done just about anything anyone can possibly do to reduce the spread of any kind of infection.”

Tomter said the city is unfairly singling out bars and restaurants, since officials aren’t naming the other types of places infected people went to.

All visits to the businesses on the Department of Health’s list came in mid- to late June.

Business NameLocationCase Visits IdentifiedExposure Period
Anchorage Moose Lodge #1534Anchorage86/23-6/28
Panhandle BarAnchorage66/16-6/24
JJ’s LoungeAnchorage66/15-6/18
The Gaslight BarAnchorage56/25-6/27
Williwaw SocialAnchorage36/20, 6/21, 6/25
Chilkoot Charlie’sAnchorage26/18-6/25
Cabin TavernAnchorage26/24-6/25
F Street StationAnchorage26/20 and 6/25
Eddie’s Sports BarAnchorage16/18
Humpy’s Great Alaskan AlehouseAnchorage16/25
Pioneer BarAnchorage16/20
Bernie’s Bungalow LoungeAnchorage16/25
Great Alaskan Bush CompanyAnchorage16/24
Asia GardenAnchorage16/24
The Blue Line Pub & CaféAnchorage16/17
Homestead Sports LoungeEagle River16/26
Matanuska Brewing CompanyEagle River26/26
Spurs Bar and Grill(formerly Four Corners Lounge)Palmer36/23-6/27
Yukon BarSeward26/23-6/25
Source: Municipality of Anchorage

The Anchorage Department of Health is recommending that people who visited the businesses during the exposure periods avoid going to work and public places.

Other advice from the city: Monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and take temperatures twice a day. If symptoms develop, stay home, except to get tested and get tested as soon as possible. Stay away from people who are higher risk for serious COVID-19 illness.

“With the current surge in cases and related contacts, our public health tracing capacity is maxed out,” Anchorage Health Department Director Natasha Pineda said in a written statement. “At this time, particularly at locations where physical distancing and use of face coverings are unlikely to occur, the number of contacts is too large and complex for traditional contact tracing.”

At a community update on Wednesday, Sarah Oates, president of Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association, urged the hospitality industry to take precautions, such as reducing or eliminating live music so that patrons don’t crowd together to converse.

“Many businesses are already self imposing restrictions and implementing procedures well above the requirements that are in current health mandates,” she said. “And I’m here to encourage others do the same for the greater good.”

Oates said she knows officials around the state are considering shutting businesses down again. She said that would be ruinous.

“I can say that with complete certainty … a second, industry-wide shut down would directly result in the permanent closure of businesses that you or your loved ones own, work at or love to visit,” she warned.

Reporter Liz Ruskin contributed to this story.