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Unalaska Extends 'Hunker Down' Order, Makes Changes To Local Health Mandates

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Berett Wilber/KUCB
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The Unalaska City Council voted Tuesday to extend the island's "hunker down" order until mid-January, and also made three changes tightening local health mandates. 

The first change is to Unalaska's mask-wearing mandate, which previously only required customers and visitors of establishments to cover their nose and mouth. Now it also covers employees and volunteers at businesses and organizations, if they're interacting with customers and visitors, said City Manager Erin Reinders.

The second change reduces the number of people who can gather from 20 to 10.

And the third change removes a subsection of the two-week traveler quarantine requirement that allowed crews arriving by boat to count their time spent at sea towards the 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Unalaska. 

Reinders said officials removed the exception now that they have a greater understanding of how the coronavirus moves throughout vessels and is transmitted between crew members.

"Now what would happen if individuals arrive by vessel, they too would be expected to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival," she said. 

Four Unalaskans spoke against continuing the "hunker down" order at Tuesday's meeting. They argued that the mandate infringes on personal liberties, threatens individuals with isolation and harms individuals and businesses economically.

Despite the objections, the five councilors present voted unanimously to continue the order, which will be revisited at their Jan. 12 meeting. 

Mayor Vince Tutiakoff Sr. said if he'd had a vote, he would have supported the resolution as well. 

"I feel like what I'm doing here is defending the community's health and well being," Tutiakoff said. "And in doing so, we may have opposition. But it is in the best interest of this community that we do what we can to protect the elderly, the young and this community in general."

Unalaska remains in a state of emergency and is currently at a high coronavirus risk level, as determined by local authorities. The city will consider stepping back down to the medium risk level once two weeks go by without a new COVID-19 case stemming from community spread.

As of Monday, there have been 164 cases of the coronavirus in Unalaska, 13 of which are currently active. 

 

Hope McKenney reported for KUCB from 2019 until 2022. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2021.
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