Reversing a decision it made prior to the start of the legislative session, the Legislature’s Legislative Council on Wednesday dropped the mask mandate for Alaska’s Capitol in Juneau.
The new rules say that individual legislators may mandate masks in their offices, but everywhere else in the building it’s a personal choice. The new rules also remove the requirement that legislators, staff, and media members get tested regularly. The testing requirement has not been enforced since the beginning of session.
During the House Finance Committee’s Labor & Workforce Development Subcommittee on Wednesday, only Anchorage Democrat Reps. Ivy Spohnholz and Liz Snyder wore masks; even former mask fanatic Democrat Rep. Zack Fields did not wear one during the meeting, and the committee staff did not. In Senate Resources, only Juneau Democrat Sen. Jesse Kiehl wore one. In House Resources, only Democrat Reps. Grier Hopkins of Fairbanks and Sara Hannan of Juneau kept their N95 masks on.
It’s been on-again, off-again for mask requirements in Alaska’s Capitol for the past two years.
Masks are still the local law for the greater Juneau area for those who are unvaccinated for Covid-19, in spite of data that shows that over 40 percent of those catching the virus in Alaska are vaccinated.
Those not “fully” vaccinated must wear masks while in indoor public areas and at crowded outdoor events in Juneau. Masks must be worn in all municipal facilities, regardless of vaccination status. Students are masked in the Juneau schools, although high school basketball and hockey players now can take their masks off while playing.