Juneau requires masks in city facilities amid increase in COVID-19 cases

IGA Mask sign customer 2020 07 17
A customer wearing a mask heads into the Foodland IGA in Juneau on Friday, July 17, 2020. In July 2021, the City and Borough of Juneau started asking residents to mask up indoors again after relaxing requirements for several months. On July 20, the city required masks at city facilities. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Update Tuesday, July 20, 12:11 p.m.

Masks are required in City and Borough of Juneau facilities effective immediately due to recent increases in COVID-19 cases.

Those facilities include City Hall, Augustus Brown Pool, Dimond Park Aquatic Center, Downtown Public Library, Mendenhall Valley Public Library, Douglas Public Library, Juneau-Douglas City Museum, and Zach Gordon Youth Center.

Masks continue to be required on Capital Transit/CAPITAK AKcess, in the Juneau International Airport, Juneau School District facilities, and Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Original story:

The City and Borough of Juneau is asking its residents to mask up indoors again — whether or not they’re vaccinated.

It’s not a mandate, but a request as local case counts rise.

Robert Barr from Juneau’s Emergency Operations Center says the borough wants to avoid a surge of cases like in Sitka, where the case count climbed over 150 this weekend.

“None of us want to see case activity grow. And none of us want to see requirements in place,” he said. “We really do need people to help out and help us get our current situation under control so that we don’t get there. I’m concerned that we might.”

The city cites increased travel and the advance of the easily-transmissible Delta variant as reasons for taking extra precautions. Barr says the goal is to keep businesses open and the school on track to resume in-person learning this fall.

He says the Juneau community has done well in keeping the virus under control so far, and he knows it’s especially tough to return to masks now.

“It’s just natural to want to sort of ease up and kind of get back to normal. And we actually enjoyed, I think, a month or so — I wish there was more than that — of being able to do so. But unfortunately, we are seeing that spread again,” said Barr.

The city recommends masks in any indoor spaces like grocery stores, libraries, restaurants and other places where people gather.

The borough continues to recommend that anyone with symptoms get tested. It also urges unvaccinated folks who have traveled —especially to Sitka, Anchorage or the Kenai Peninsula — to be tested as well.

City officials will provide detailed information and guidance during a COVID-19 community update on Tuesday, July 20, at 4 p.m. Participate online, call 1-253-215-8782 with webinar ID 985 6308 5159, or watch on Facebook Live.

Claire Stremple

Alaska News Reporter, KTOO

I believe every Alaskan has a right to timely information about their health and health systems, and their natural environment and its management. My goal is to report thoughtful stories that inform, inspire and quench the curiosity of listeners across the state.

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