Anchorage implementing order to wear masks starting Monday
People within the municipality must wear a mask indoors starting 8 a.m. Monday, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz announced Friday.
The mask requirement applies to settings like businesses, restaurants and public transportation. The mayor said there will be significant exceptions to who needs to wear a mask, saying people with adverse health responses to the masks, young children and people whose job performance would be impaired are not required to wear a mask.
Berkowitz said people are encouraged to wear masks in all settings where physical distancing is difficult, but that no requirement to wear a mask outdoors is being considered at this time.
The mask order is going into effect after Berkowitz said he had received many calls from local businesses saying they were having trouble enforcing business requirements for customers to wear masks.
"If we can say we have an added level of safety, the expectation is that it will increase the expectation of safety from consumers, which will encourage them to engage in more economic activity," Berkowitz said.
The emergency order will be in place until July 31 unless extended by the Anchorage Assembly, the mayor said.
Health care professions say wearing a face covering is an effective way to reduce COVID-19 infection.
"It's clear that any type of physical barrier reduces how well those droplets can pass from one person to another," Dr. Bruce Chandler, medical officer with the Anchorage Health Department, said.
Chandler added that most people will not have any issues wearing a mask and that it is unlikely that most of the population will be deprived of oxygen by wearing a face covering.
Berkowitz said enforcement will rely primarily on community norms but that code enforcement officers may visit sites that have been reported for failing to comply with the order.
The mayor has not released the full details of the order but says the information will be posted by Friday afternoon.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.