Anchorage Assembly rejects motion to end emergency proclamation

Seats in front of a dais
The Anchorage Assembly Chambers in the Loussac Library on Jan. 26, 2021. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage Assembly rejected another motion to throw out the city’s emergency proclamation at a meeting on Tuesday evening. The city has been under an emergency proclamation since the pandemic began last March. It is currently set to expire next month unless the Assembly votes to extend it for the eighth time.

The resolution, which is routinely proposed by Assembly members Jamie Allard and John Weddleton, was defeated in an 8-2 vote, with Allard and fellow Eagle River and Chugiak Assembly member Crystal Kennedy voting in favor of rescinding the proclamation. Weddleton said he supports the proclamation staying in place until the Assembly can transition some of the existing emergency orders to city ordinances. He added that while it’s not yet time to roll it back, he does think it is important to review the emergency proclamation at every meeting.

In a memo, Allard urged the Assembly to “promote individual responsibility” to address the pandemic instead. Other Assembly members disagreed, arguing that current emergency measures are still needed to keep the pandemic under control.

Anchorage Health Department epidemiologist Janet Johnston strongly recommended against ending the proclamation, which gives the acting mayor the power to set emergency orders like the mask mandate in response to COVID-19. Despite increasing availability of vaccines, Johnston said the city is starting to see COVID-19 case counts increase once again.