One-third of Alaska’s population — those in the Anchorage municipality from Girdwood to Chugiak — will be subject to a mask mandate implemented by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz.
All persons inside of Anchorage, as of Monday at 8 am, will need to mask their nose and mouths if they are in a public building or place such as restaurant, bar, store, or other facility.
Berkowitz said he is “astounded” at all the uninformed pushback he has heard against the mask mandate. “I am just astounded by the number of constitutional scholars in our community,” he said.
Berkowitz said he had three options: Do nothing and let the COVID-19 virus spread, enact a mask mandate, or shut down the economy once again. He chose the mask mandate as the least consequential choice in terms of how it negatively impacts people.
There are exceptions: Young children, those with certain health conditions or breathing problems, and if a mask would interfere with your duties in some way.
He said that he does not expect people to wear masks when they are eating in a restaurant or sipping a beverage.
“It helps generate consumer confidence in the marketplace,” he said. “People don’t feel safe going to restaurant. They don’t feel safe going to bars. They don’t feel safe going to stores.”
He pointed to an op-ed in the Anchorage Daily News authored by “a number of economists and they came to the same conclusion.”
(Four of the six authors of that op-ed had also signed the recall petition against Gov. Mike Dunleavy, and the two that did not are not registered voters in Alaska.) Many of Dunleavy’s supporters across the state do not support a mask mandate and he has been reluctant to force Alaskans to mask up.
Berkowitz said that the mandate “can extend” to office settings where people are not in contact with the public.
The end date for the mask mandate is the end of July, Berkowitz said.
This story will be updated.