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City Eliminates Size Limitations For Public Indoor Gatherings & Clarifies Unalaska's Quarantine

Berett Wilber

City officials eased some of the island's health mandates designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 Wednesday, just as Unalaska approaches its one-year anniversary of life under a local state of emergency. 

The City Council eliminated the size restrictions on indoor public gatherings in a unanimous vote at a special noon meeting. 

The move was in light of the city lowering its coronavirus risk level to "medium" Monday, following two weeks without a new case stemming from community spread and a decrease in the overall number of active cases.

At the meeting, City Councilor Dave Gregory urged Unalaskans to remain vigilant and continue to follow local and state health guidance. 

"It's great that we can have public gatherings now and people can feel more normal," he said. "But if we start getting more community spread, we're going to be like a yo-yo and lock things back up again. So it's up to people to really continue to follow these guidelines so that we can stay at this position of 'medium.'"

The City Council also added a clarification to the exemption from the local travel quarantine for those who have been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks before traveling, which was approved by councilors in late February. The Council clarified that the exemption expires 90 days from when the person received their second dose.

The move is in line with new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to City Manager Erin Reinders. 

"If three months have passed since you have received your final vaccination, then those individuals would have to quarantine upon arrival," she said. 

City staff and local health care professionals will continue monitoring CDC and state guidance on the topic, Reinders added. As more is understood about COVID-19 vaccinations, this time period is anticipated to be adjusted accordingly.

The resolution also exempts travelers that have recovered from COVID-19 within the past three months from quarantining.

Everyone else is still required to quarantine for 10 days, or seven days with a negative COVID-19 test result no sooner than the sixth day of quarantine. 

Masks are still required indoors and in other public spaces where social distancing isn't practical. A full list of Unalaska's health mandates can be found on the city's website.

The City Council is slated to revisit the measures at its March 23 meeting.

Hope McKenney is a public radio news director, reporter, producer and host based in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.
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