City of Kotzebue begins mask mandate and new testing requirements

A beige building with the blue words Alaska Airlines
The Ralph Wien Memorial Airport in Kotzebue. (Wikimedia commons photo)

The city of Kotzebue is instituting two new health mandates to curb the spread of COVID-19, starting Monday. 

City attorney Joe Evans laid out the new mandate for passengers flying into Kotzebue. 

“That is a seven-day quarantine with a COVID test upon arrival and a second COVID test at the end of the seven-day period,” Evans said. “If both of those are negative, then the quarantine is over, and folks can proceed about their business.”

Read more stories of how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting rural Alaska

People who decide not to take a test will have to quarantine for 14 days. 

Evans says the city is also instituting a mandatory mask mandate for anyone who leaves their residence. He says anyone who violates the mandate will be subject to a warning, with police issuing fines for subsequent violations.

“The first violation is $100, the second violation is $200 and the third violation is $300,” Evans said. “There is an appeal process if someone believes they have been unfairly issued a citation with the requisite fine. There’s an appeal process with the chief of police and ultimately with the city manager.”

City manager Tom Atkinson says that initially, cases in Kotzebue were related to travel, but in recent months community spread of the virus has increased. He says the new mandate is modeled after the health mandate in Nome. 

“We currently sit at 351 cases regionwide, and Nome has had only 210 cases,” Atkinson said. “So they’ve had some success in what they’re doing there. And we want to try and copy that.”

The city will post the new mandates to its website. The mandates takes effect on Monday, November 30.