JBER declares Public Health Emergency, announces new restrictions

A runway with a dozen fighter jets anda mountains in the background
JBER Runway (Photo by Staff Sgt. Curt Beach)

Officials at JBER have declared a public health emergency in response to the community spread of COVID-19 and are tightening rules on activities for servicemembers both on and off base. 

Among the restrictions: mask-wearing is mandatory in public for all except children under 2 years old, access to the base will be limited to essential personnel and contractors, and indoor gatherings are limited to two family groups. Those who meet with more than two family units either on or off base or eat or drink at restaurants or bars won’t be allowed back on base. Servicemembers who violate the restrictions could also be fined up to $1,000 and face a year in prison. 

The full list of restrictions can be found here.

JBER Commander Col. Kirsten Aguilar said in a video Monday that the public health emergency declaration follows a meeting with both Gov. Mike Dunleavy and acting Anchorage Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson. Aguilar said that both the mayor and governor stressed the danger continued COVID-19 spread poses to healthcare capacity. 

Aguilar noted that restrictions for on-base gyms and dining halls are less stringent than the city’s. She says that one reason is that current mitigation measures at those facilities are working. Another is the critical nature of those facilities for base operations. 

“Gyms and dining facilities are mission-essential functions and are critical to maintaining warfighter readiness,” said Aguilar.

A spokesperson for JBER said that the number of COVID-19 cases reported on base is not available. 

Master Sgt. Jonathan Foster said the number of people who work on base on a daily basis isn’t clear because of a large number of people teleworking. In 2019, about 10,000 lived on base and 15,000 were employed at JBER.

The declaration will last for thirty days but can be extended or shortened. 

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