Bronson administration launches online form to report Anchorage mask mandate violations

A sign outside of Title Wave Books on Aug. 30, 2021, in Anchorage encourages customers to wear face masks. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration announced Wednesday that it has launched an online form for people to use to report individuals and businesses that are not in compliance with the municipality’s emergency mask mandate. 

The form asks for the “name of the accused violator,” their contact information, the date of the alleged offense and what happened. It’s unclear who is going to investigate the reports and what the penalties will be.

A majority of Anchorage Assembly members have pushed for the city to enforce the mask rules since they went into effect Oct. 14, but Bronson is staunchly opposed to requiring masks.

Anchorage Municipal Manager Amy Demboski announced the online form at Wednesday’s regular Assembly meeting. The meeting lasted just under 80 minutes minutes, and ended early amid disputes over the Assembly’s new masking and social distancing requirements for the chamber.

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Demboski said that there is now a link on the municipality’s website where people can report violations of the mandate. The link is on the municipal manager page on the site. 

There is still no public information regarding any fines or penalties for violations of the mandate. 

The online form on mask violations stems from the emergency ordinance passed by the Assembly on Oct. 12.  It went into effect on Oct. 14 after the Assembly overrode the mayor’s veto of it. The ordinance mandates that people wear masks in indoor public places and in communal spaces.

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Businesses must deny entry to people who aren’t wearing masks. They must also ensure that employees have access to masks when required.

Children under age 5, people in police custody, people participating in sports, people at church and Mayor Bronson’s administration are exempt from the mandate.

When it passed, the mask mandate did not specify how it would be enforced, stating “the Municipality reserves the right to use all available enforcement options to assure compliance with this Emergency Ordinance.” In a letter to the mayor last week, Assembly leaders pressed Bronson to explain how his administration would enforce the mandate.

Prior to the Assembly’s passage of the emergency mask ordinance, the Assembly heard public testimony on a separate mandate. An amendment to the previous mandate would have created a mechanism for citizens to report violations of the mandate, with corresponding fines listed. The amendment received criticism from supporters and opponents of the mandate, including Bronson, with many citing that the policy could elevate divisiveness amongst community members. 

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Wesley Early covers municipal politics and Anchorage life for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org.

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