Public testimony on Anchorage mask ordinance continues, with more than a dozen amendments yet to be debated

A woman waves two flags — one American and the other stating “Don’t Tread on Me” — in opposition to the proposed Anchorage mask mandate. The Anchorage Assembly continued its fifth day of testimony on the ordinance on Oct. 6, 2021. (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

Public testimony on Anchorage’s proposed mask mandate entered its fifth day at the Assembly chambers Tuesday night. 

The ordinance is similar to the mandate enacted last year by former mayor Ethan Berkowitz and extended by the Assembly. It would require people to wear masks in indoor public places and in communal spaces. As of Tuesday night, the ordinance has 14 amendments. 

Among them is a provision that would allow an avenue for citizens to report violations of the ordinance, though another amendment removes that provision. Other amendments would exempt mask-wearing for athletic activities and amend the ordinance to encourage, but not require, masks in large, crowded public events. 

As in prior days of testimony, most of those who testified in-person were opposed to the ordinance. At times, the crowd got rowdy and Assembly chair Suzanne LaFrance repeatedly admonished members of the public for disruptions. One man opposed to the mandate had his microphone cut off during testimony as he began to express homophobic remarks. 

Several Assembly members said that testimony received online has been weighed more in support of the mask mandate.

“So far we’ve received over 1,500 emails in support and just over 800 against,” member Austin Quinn-Davidson wrote in a statement to Alaska Public Media. “So it’s about a two-to-one ratio of those who support it.”

Public testimony will continue at the Assembly chambers Thursday evening at 5 p.m.

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Wesley is a reporter for Alaska Public Media, covering primarily city government and Anchorage life. He previously worked at Alaska Public Media as a web editor, producer and education reporter before a two-year stint in Kotzebue, AK as News Director for KOTZ-AM.

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