COVID-19 Bulletin

To our Gustavus community & visitors,

We wanted to assure our GVA members, community and visitors that the Gustavus Visitor Association is closely monitoring developments surrounding COVID-19 around the world. This week changes have come by the hour.

RESOURCES / National Park Information
Glacier Bay Delays Visitor Services Season Start to July 1
Citing employee and community health concerns, as well as significant disruption in travel due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Superintendent Philip Hooge announced today that Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve will push back the start of its visitor services season from Memorial Day weekend to July 1.

To see the full news release, please visit the Glacier Bay news page:
www.nps.gov

The United States Chamber of Commerce has developed one of the most comprehensive sites for small businesses.

Here you can download the US Chambers’ documents:

Local resources:

The Alaska Marine Highway System

Our Gustavus dock and ferry terminal is currently under reconstruction and is due to be back up and running in June, by which time, much may have changed with the Corvid situation, however, as of today the AMHS sent out the below statement.

Details about AMHS efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are below:

The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) would like to share with you the protocols we have in place to help prevent exposure to COVID-19.

We are committed to the safety of our passengers, employees, and our communities. We are continuously monitoring the guidance of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Centers for Disease Control regarding the spread of the virus, along with operational guidance from the United States Coast Guard.

AMHS is focused on prevention.

Staff diligently clean vessels daily using recommended sanitizing products. We are stepping up and augmenting our cleaning processes and food operations including passenger and crew areas.

  • Employees who display any symptoms are instructed to stay home and consult their healthcare providers.
  • All passengers and employees are reminded to frequently was their hands, using soap, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Information soon to posted on our website concerning cleaning and food services precautions that we are implementing
  • Signage being developed for terminals and vessels issuing a public safety alert for symptoms and asking travelers not to board if afflicted with these. Instructions to report these to symptoms to their health care provider. Posting will also be placed on website.
  • Extra cleaning products and personal protective equipment being issued to the vessels.

At this time, there are no impacts to the AMHS schedules posted at www.FerryAlaska.com. If this changes for any reason, we will immediately notify our passengers.

CHANGES IN CRUISE INDUSTRY
Canada’s government has temporarily barred all cruise ships and ferries that carry more than 500 people, including crew, from docking in Canada until June 30. In a statement from the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, the harbor authority is looking into the possibility of attracting more ships that carry under 500 people. Schedules are usually set up to two years in advance, so it is unknown how many smaller ships can redirect their sailings. This ban will also affect ships that begin in U.S. ports such as Seattle, due to the Passenger Service Vessel Act (aka “Jones Act) non U.S. flagged ships are required to call in a non U.S. port before calling in Alaska.

We are closely tracking on industry developments and will share information with you as it is made available to us.

The Cruise Lines International Association partner ocean-going cruise lines will be voluntarily and temporarily suspending cruise ship operations from and to U.S. ports of call for 30 days as public health officials and the U.S. Government continue to address COVID-19. Click for the latest cruise industry updates

While there have been recent headlines about closures in the Port of Seattle, these are only relating to the cruise ship industry. Barge service is running as normal, and we do not anticipate any cancellations or reductions to our essential services in Sitka. Both The Hames Corporation and AC Lakeside have, and will continue to have, new shipments on the way.

FOR YOUR BUSINESS
As we move forward as a community your efforts are vital in this moment. Remind travelers that Alaska remains open for business, be clear about your cancellation and re-booking policies, and share the steps your business takes to ensure the well-being of guests in this or any circumstance. It’s also a good time to consider specials and packages, as well as encourage Alaskans to take advantage of what’s in their own backyard.

We know that businesses are already feeling the economic impact of the outbreak. We encourage you to track your cancellations and losses against last year at this same time. ATIA will be working with state and federal agencies on disaster relief, and we are encouraging local businesses to track cancellations and loss of revenue in anticipation of government relief efforts.

FOR OUR COMMUNITY
This is the time for us to support our neighbors and keep Gutavus in business. This summer be a tourist in your own backyard, purchase locally grown greens, purchase organic locally roasted coffee, consider purchasing gift certificates from local businesses as gifts to assist each other, friends and families through this time of economic turmoil.

When shopping for supplies, please be mindful and conscientious about what you need, and the needs of your community neighbors. Create a plan with your staff in case someone does become ill, and be sure your employees understand your policies and expectations. Check the CDC’s “Getting Your Household Ready” checklist to learn how you can better prepare in the case of an outbreak in our community.

Stay informed by checking official resource sites and be wary of passing on false information. And finally, we will get through this together.

Warm regards,
Leah Okin
Gustavus Visitor Association

For Immediate Release
20-071

Governor Announces Phase Two of Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan

May 6, 2020 (Anchorage, AK) – Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy today announced plans for Phase Two of the State’s approach to reopening segments of the Alaskan economy in an effort to balance the ongoing need to slow the rate of the COVID-19 infection with the critical need to resume economic activity in a reasonable and safe manner.

Beginning Friday, May 8, 2020, Phase Two of the Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan will take effect, allowing most non-essential businesses to reopen with safeguards. This will allow for the following:

50% capacity for retail, restaurants, and other non-essential businesses outlined in Phase One. Walk-ins permitted.
50% capacity, or up to 20 patrons, for personal care services. Reservations only.
50 person capacity for social and religious gatherings.
25% capacity for fitness centers. Walk-ins permitted.
50% capacity for swimming pools. Walk-ins permitted.
25% capacity for bars, libraries, and museums. Walk-ins permitted.

Additional guidance will be available on May 7, 2020 at covid19.alaska.gov.

CARES Act Funds

Governor Dunleavy today called upon the Alaska Legislative Budget and Audit (LB&A) Committee to meet as soon as possible and approve the distribution of the pending $870 million CARES Act funds to Alaskan communities and businesses.

“CARES Act funding was approved several weeks ago by Congress. Right now, a large part of it is still waiting for approval from the legislature – the LB&A Committee. We were hoping that today we’d be able to report that LB&A met and approved approximately $568 million for municipal relief, $290 million for small business relief, $100 million for fisheries relief, $10 million for homeless prevention, $49 million for FAA grants to rural airports, and $3 million for transportation operations. Unfortunately, these funds are still awaiting approval by the legislature,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy. “As we’ve said before, we need this money in the hands of these entities now. We’re asking that the LB&A Committee to join with Senator Giessel and Representative Pruitt, and other members of the Legislature, in their effort to move quickly on this so these entities can begin mitigating the economic impacts of the virus.”

Background

On March 26th, the U.S. Congress passed the CARES Act. President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act on March 27th. On April 21st, upon receiving the funds from the U.S. Treasury, the Dunleavy administration submitted an initial distribution plan to the LB&A Committee for consideration. On May 1st, following meetings with lawmakers, community leaders, and federal partners, the Dunleavy Administration submitted a revised distribution plan to the LB&A Committee, requesting expedited action.

The Governor’s COVID-19 Health Mandates can be found here.
For the latest information on Alaska’s response to COVID-19, please visit covid19.alaska.gov

###

Media Contact: Jeff Turner, jeff.turner@alaska.gov (90