Juneau asks residents to mask up indoors again

A customer wearing a mask heads into the Foodland IGA in Juneau on Friday, July 17, 2020. In July 2021, the City and Borough of Juneau started asking residents to mask up indoors again after relaxing requirements for several months. (Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Update Tuesday, July 20, 12:11 p.m.

Masks are required in City and Borough of Juneau facilities effective immediately due to recent increases in COVID-19 cases.

Those facilities include City Hall, Augustus Brown Pool, Dimond Park Aquatic Center, Downtown Public Library, Mendenhall Valley Public Library, Douglas Public Library, Juneau-Douglas City Museum, and Zach Gordon Youth Center.

Masks continue to be required on Capital Transit/CAPITAK AKcess, in the Juneau International Airport, Juneau School District facilities, and Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Original story:

The City and Borough of Juneau is asking its residents to mask up indoors again — whether or not they’re vaccinated.

It’s not a mandate, but a request as local case counts rise.

Robert Barr from Juneau’s Emergency Operations Center said the borough wants to avoid a surge of cases like in Sitka, where the case count climbed over 150 this weekend.

“None of us want to see case activity grow. And none of us want to see requirements in place,” he said. “We really do need people to help out and help us get our current situation under control so that we don’t get there. I’m concerned that we might.”

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The city cites increased travel and the advance of the easily-transmissible delta variant as reasons for taking extra precautions. Barr said the goal is to keep businesses open and the school on track to resume in-person learning this fall.

He said the Juneau community has done well in keeping the virus under control so far, and he knows it’s especially tough to return to masks now.

“It’s just natural to want to sort of ease up and kind of get back to normal. And we actually enjoyed, I think, a month or so — I wish there was more than that — of being able to do so. But unfortunately, we are seeing that spread again,” said Barr.

The city recommends masks in any indoor spaces like grocery stores, libraries, restaurants and other places where people gather.

The borough continues to recommend anyone with symptoms get tested. It also urges unvaccinated folks who have traveled — especially to Sitka, Anchorage or the Kenai Peninsula — to be tested as well.

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