CHARR asks for restaurant mandates, hoping to slow restaurant and bar related COVID spread

Safety precautions at South Restaurant+Bistro (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

A large Alaska hospitality group is asking Gov. Mike Dunleavy to implement binding, statewide mandates on the restaurant and bar industry, instead of its current recommendations, which are voluntary. 

In an open letter to Dunleavy, CHARR, an industry group of 800, cited an internal survey that found over 80% of its members would support mandates instead of recommendations. Smaller percentages, over 60% supported mandates on specific issues such as requiring employees to wear face coverings and keeping guest logs to help with contact tracing in the event of an outbreak. 

The letter cites one respondent of the survey who argues that recommendations without mandates forces business owners have to balance the preference of some customers who don’t want to wear masks with the public safety. 

So far, Dunleavy has said he supports recommendations over mandates statewide and says that most Alaskans have been complying with those recommendations. 

In an emailed comment on the letter, spokesperson Jeff Turner wrote that the governor is engaged in “productive discussions”’ with the industry representatives on balancing customer safety with keeping hospitality businesses open. 

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Lex Treinen covers culture, homelessness, politics and corrections for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@alaskapublic.org.

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