Visitors to Alaska from outside the state will be strongly encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 before they get on their plane, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said during a press conference on Friday.
Dunleavy announced that the state will be revising Health Mandate 10, which covers interstate travel. The changes will go into effect on June 5.
While the details have yet to be released, Dunleavy said that part of the revisions will be removing the 14-day quarantine requirement for visitors not associated with critical infrastructure. Rather than asking visitors to self-quarantine in the state, visitors will be “strongly encouraged” to get tested before they get here.
“We want to know that, for your health, the visitor’s health, that you’re pretty sure you don’t have the virus before you come to Alaska,” Dunleavy said. “So we’re asking that a test take place within 72 hours of boarding the jet to Alaska.”
Travelers will be asked to carry a form with them that has the results of their test. The form will be collected by contractors with the Department of Health and Social Services upon arrival to Alaska. Dunleavy said that this form will be made available on the state’s website. The state is working with major airlines to distribute the information on the new testing protocol to travelers.
If the test taken prior to arrival is negative, that person is free to travel and enjoy Alaska, Dunleavy said. If the test is positive, that person will be unable to travel.
“If your test is positive, you won’t be coming to Alaska,” Dunleavy said. “You won’t want to come to Alaska, you’ll want to seek medical help.”
Testing will be provided at all the relevant airports for people who lose their paperwork or for some reason did not get a test, but Dunleavy said that this alternative will not be ideal.
“If they come off the plane without a test, it may take a while for them to leave the terminal before they’re tested and we get the results,” Dunleavy said. “So it’s going to be more of an inconvenience just because of the nature of the test and the time it takes for the test to determine if one is negative or positive.”
A negative result on this test will give that person the freedom to travel around the state, Dunleavy said. A positive result will mean that the state will work with that person to identify a suitable location for quarantine and treatment.
Travelers coming here to work in the seafood, mining or other industries defined as “critical infrastructure” will still be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or until they test negative for the disease, per the specific protocols laid out for each industry.
The international airports in Anchorage and Fairbanks as well as the airports in Ketchikan, Juneau, Wrangell and Petersburg will be implementing these protocols, Dunleavy said.
Smaller communities in Alaska will still be permitted to limit nonessential travel if they choose to do so. Dunleavy said the state would work with those communities on those restrictions.
More details on the revisions to Health Mandate 10 will be available by next Tuesday, Dunleavy said.