The City of Soldotna announced Friday that, as of May 17, face masks are optional at city facilities that previously required masks as part of their COVID-19 protocols. Those facilities include Soldotna City Hall, Soldotna Public Library, the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex and the Soldotna Police Department.
The new protocols are in response to recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention, which said that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can participate in activities without wearing a mask or social distancing except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws.
Someone is considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after their second COVID-19 vaccine dose or two weeks after receiving a vaccine that only requires one dose, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
The news comes as vaccines are now widely available on the central peninsula and more than 40% of Kenai Peninsula residents 16 and older are fully vaccinated.
The Soldotna City Council will also consider the repeal of the city’s COVID-19 disaster declaration during their May 26 meeting. If approved for introduction, a public hearing for the legislation would be held on June 9. In introducing the legislation, Soldotna Mayor Paul Whitney said he hopes it will help the city get back to normal.
“I believe the time has come to end the Citywide Disaster Emergency Declaration and return to some semblance of normalcy in our daily lives,” Whitney wrote in a May 19 memo to the council. “The State of Alaska and many other communities within the State have ended their Disaster Emergency Declarations and I believe this is the time for Soldotna to do the same.”
The City of Kenai voted earlier this week to extend its disaster declaration to the end of June, citing uncertainty about whether or not it would need to have a declaration in place in order to be eligible for additional COVID-19 relief funding.
Soldotna will also host a “Sleeves up for Summer” celebration at Soldotna Creek Park on Wednesday from 11:15 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. Attendees can receive a free COVID-19 vaccine. Kenai Public Health Nurses and the Kenai Fire Department will offer both the Pfizer and BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines. Pfizer’s vaccine is available to people 12 or older and the Moderna’s is available to people 18 and older.
The event will also have a raffle for people who are vaccinated. Raffle prizes include a $2,500 Alaska Airlines voucher, a Traeger Pro Series 575 Pellet Grill and a pair of 10-foot sit-in kayaks with paddles and life jackets. Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, as well as Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum will also be in attendance.
More information about Soldotna’s new policies can be found on the city’s website at soldotna.org. More information about Wednesday’s Sleeves Up for Summer Celebration can be found on the event’s Facebook page.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.