Anchorage acting mayor seeks emergency order extension

A hand-drawn sign at a downtown that says 'masks required'
A hand-drawn sign about mask requirements at a downtown Anchorage bar on March 24, 2021 (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

The acting mayor of Anchorage has asked the Assembly to extend through mid-July an emergency proclamation in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, the emergency proclamation includes gathering-size restrictions, social distancing requirements in restaurants, bars and other businesses, health restrictions for some sports teams and a citywide mask mandate. It is set to expire after April 16.

Anchorage Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson requested that the orders be extended through July 16, the Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday. It would be the eighth extension since the pandemic began.

The Anchorage Assembly is scheduled to consider the extension at its next meeting Tuesday. It can either approve it, approve it with amendments or reject it.

Quinn-Davidson said there were several reasons for requesting the extension, including because children under the age of 16 are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines and because the emergency powers help in distributing vaccines.

More than 36% of residents have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 25% of the state’s population has completed their vaccination.

Not everyone agrees with the extension. Assembly member Jamie Allard, who represents Eagle River and Chugiak, has already asked the Assembly to terminate all of the city’s orders and deny the mayor’s request.

“This overbearing government control over individuals and businesses is a slippery slope and a danger to our freedom,” Allard said in a memo. “We do not know if or when COVID-19 will no longer be a threat, but it is a greatly diminished threat to our health today.”

The Assembly has rejected Allard’s previous attempts to overturn the city’s emergency status.

Quinn-Davidson is expected to announce a new emergency order regarding COVID-19 restrictions on Monday afternoon.

Alaska Public Media added information about an upcoming emergency order.