BUT LIMITS ON GATHERINGS SUCH AS CHURCH ARE IN PLACE
Anchorage restaurants opened for 50 percent capacity sit-down dining on Monday, and not a moment too late — a massive storm from the Gulf of Alaska whipped through the region on Sunday night and into Monday, tearing some of the restaurants’ outdoor temporary tents to pieces, such as the IHOP restaurant tents shown above on Monday morning.
The weather conditions for outdoor dining deteriorated Monday, as wind was at 11 knots and over 1/2 an inch of rain fell. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’ newest order strongly suggests restaurants continue serving people outdoors, but a quick survey of Anchorage establishments showed no one eating outdoors. “Outdoor service should be prioritized,” the mayor’s order says.
Gatherings indoors are, via the mayor’s edict, limited to 30 people in a single enclosure. All outdoor gatherings involving consumption of food or beverages are limited to 50 or fewer. If there is no food or beverages involved, the limit is 100.
No one may stand at a bar, and music and dancing are prohibited. Masks must be worn except when eating or drinking.
Day cafes, camps, and schools are exempt from the gathering limitation, but churches must limit their capacity to 50 percent and people must wear masks and stay six feet apart. The mayor also said places for political expression are also open to the public, with certain conditions. Some churches have chosen to ignore the mayor’s orders, which are seen as an infringement upon their First Amendment right to gather to worship.
Outdoors for Berkowitz’ restaurant on the south end of Anchorage meant a massive party tent with stout walls, which withstood the gale-force winds overnight. Anchorage residents wondered if his “South” restaurant off of Old Seward Highway received advance notice of his Aug. 3 Emergency Order 15, which mandated no indoor dining for he entire month. Did his partners get an inside track to rent the equivalent of a large canvas room, and get fast-tracked for permits to convert the parking lot to a dining room floor?
Others wondered to MRAK whether the tent South constructed for the restaurant provided any additional guard against the COVID-19 coronavirus than a regular sit-down restaurant. Others around Anchorage had similar wall tents, and some restaurants even constructed wooden walls for their outdoor courtyards.
Earlier today, the new Bear Paw restaurant on the corner of C Street and Tudor was hopping with business, but there were no takers for the outdoor seating area.
The latest order from Berkowitz orders people to stay home as much as possible: “Everyone in the Municipality of Anchorage (the “municipality”) shall limit outings and physical contact with those outside of their household and a small chosen group of other individuals. On the occasions when individuals leave home, they shall maintain physical distancing of at least six feet from any person outside their household/small group whenever possible. Individuals are required to wear a cloth face covering or mask in public, as detailed in Emergency Order 13.”