The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District building is closed on March 26, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District building is closed on March 26, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Assembly pushes for opening economy, with caveats

On Wednesday, Dunleavy rolled out a plan to reopen sectors of the economy.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is encouraging Gov. Mike Dunleavy to modify his mandates after the state has “procured a sufficient” amount of COVID-19 testing supplies. A resolution, passed unanimously by the assembly at their Tuesday meeting, encourages the governor to lift restrictions on some businesses as soon as “reasonably practical.”

Since March 16, Dunleavy has issued a number of mandates, shuttering businesses and gatherings across the state to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. The resolution says Dunleavy’s mandates are some of the “most aggressive measures limiting virus exposure amongst the states.”

“The continued closure of businesses is impacting all Alaskans, resulting in a significant loss of jobs, business failures, and the loss of important sales tax revenues to municipalities jeopardizing essential services,” the resolution said.

The resolution asks that mandates closing restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care services are reopened once sufficient testing supplies have been gathered. Before the assembly meeting Tuesday evening, Dunleavy announced in his nightly press conference that certain businesses will be allowed to reopen on Friday if they follow a number of health conditions.

Only one community member spoke to the assembly about the resolution. Carrie Henson of Kalifornsky said she did not support the resolution and said Alaska needs to take a “measured response” to the pandemic.

“I think we should leave these decisions up to the experts,” Henson said.

She said she was “very disappointed” with Dunleavy’s decision to allow dine-in services, salons and retail shops to reopen on Friday.

“It was pressure — like this resolution — from local governments that is prompting the governor to make hasty decisions that will likely bring about a repeat of past mistakes,” Henson said.

Assembly member Brent Johnson said he also feels like there is “a lot of pressure” on the governor to open businesses.

Johnson amended the resolution to say that the assembly encourages the governor to change his mandates only if the state has gathered enough testing supplies. The amendment passed five to four, with assembly members Jesse Bjorkman, Brent Hibber, Norm Blakeley and Kenn Carpenter opposing the change.

“I get we have elderly in our communities and people who are at risk and I would say to those people to just please stay home and protect themselves, because I don’t want anyone getting (COVID-19) either,” Hibbert said. “… the sooner we get back to work and can save some businesses, the better off our community, our state and our nation will be.”

Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce said the governor has “tough decisions” to make, when it comes to the “fragile balance” of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and restarting the local economy. The mayor asked residents who are “high risk” to stay home and quarantine.

A copy of the resolution will be sent to Dunleavy and Kenai Peninsula lawmakers.

More in News

Daily school district COVID-19 risk levels: Aug. 4, 2020

Risk levels are based on COVID cases reported in a community and determine how schools will operate.

In this July 13, 2007, file photo, workers with the Pebble Mine project test drill in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, near the village of Iliamma. The Pebble Limited Partnership, which wants to build a copper and gold mine near the headwaters of a major U.S. salmon fishery in southwest Alaska, says it plans to offer residents in the region a dividend. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)
Trump Jr. says he opposes Pebble project

Pebble partnership said they don’t believe the president will interfere with the statutory process.

Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai, talks to the media about his nomination for Speaker of the House in this February 2019 photo. Knopp died July, 31, in a plane crash near his home town. (Michael Penn/ Juneau Empire File)
Knopp’s name to remain on Aug. 18 primary ballot

Should he win, the Alaska Republican Party will be able to petition for a replacement candidate.

Image via Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Board OKs $5-per-hour raise for school nurses

The increase in pay is set to expire at the end of 2020-2021 school year.

Soldotna High School English teacher Nicole Hewitt teaches her students remotely from her empty classroom at Soldotna High School on Monday, April 6, 2020 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Education commissioner talks school start

State reports 66 new COVID-19 cases

John Webster and Duane Jennings with the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank unload a truck at the food bank just outside of Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Food Bank sees major uptick in demand

Nonprofit’s biggest fundraiser of year undergoes changes due to pandemic

Tim Dillon, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, is seen here reviewing his proposed changes to the Alaska Legislature regarding the AK CARES funds for small businesses at the KPEDD office in Kenai, Alaska, on July 1, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
States expands small business grants

The AK CARES Grant program is being modified in response to calls for changes.

Daily school district COVID-19 risk levels: Aug. 3

Risk levels are based on COVID cases reported in a community and determine how schools will operate.

A fire crew can be seen here at a containment line for the Swan Lake Fire in this undated photo. (Courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management)
Fire crew’s departure highlights different wildfire season

With fire season winding down, state sends firefigthers south

Most Read