By Krizelle Solidum
As of early June, Alaska officials updated travel mandates for anyone entering the state.
The restriction of non-essential travel across the United States and Canada land border will continue until at least July 21.
Those who travel through the U.S.-Canada border must prove their crossing is essential by presenting documentation, reason for travel and length of stay.
Since the establishment of the travel mandates, over 2,000 people have flown into the state.
With state mandates in place, travelers entering Alaska have a choice of providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test (taken 72 hours to five days) before departure. They must test again within seven to 14 days. If the second test is negative, there are no further restrictions. The other option is a mandatory quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. No tests are necessary for those who quarantine.
Those who do not have access to testing before departure, or may not get their results in time before traveling to Alaska, can get their first COVID-19 test at the airport free of charge. All non-quarantining travellers should minimize interactions until a second test shows negative results.
Testing is available by appointment locally at the Dahl Memorial Clinic. Anyone wanting to get tested is advised to call in advance, to help protect staff and patients.
If previously tested positive for COVID-19, all the same requirements stand, along with a recovery note issued by a doctor.
“Practice good hygiene, social distancing, wear a mask and get tested if you are sick,” said Cody Jennings, director of the Skagway Convention & Visitors Bureau.
If passing through Canada, a set of health questions will be asked. Individuals have 24 hours to get through the Yukon territory with limited stops for essential reasons only. The final decision for approval of entry into Canada is up to the Canada Border Services Agency, determined on a case by case basis.
George D’Amico, a local Skagwegian, experienced firsthand what it was like for a U.S. citizen to travel through Canada. D’Amico was returning to Skagway from the Mat-su area because he runs a local automotive repair shop.
While crossing through the border, D’Amico was asked to provide a copy of his lease agreement, business license and proof of his employment. Once D’Amico’s passage was approved, he was briefed that only one family per rest area was allowed.
When traveling out-of-state for five days or less, a test is not required but it is highly recommended that residents self-quarantine upon return for the allotted 14 days.
Any individual that yields a positive result for COVID-19 must quarantine until a negative result is obtained. It is the responsibility of the traveler to find appropriate housing.
Rob May, a local Skagwegian, returned from a trip to Spain where he was touring the Camino de Santiago in early June.
When the coronavirus peaked in Spain, May, along with others in his tour group, was asked to return to the U.S. Everyone had to rebook flights because the country only allowed flights out of Spain, to the United Kingdom.
“There were barely any passengers on the flight and you had to sit in your assigned seat. The aircraft only had two rows with two seats on each side,” said May.
What May noticed was how different the culture was in Fresno, in which wearing a mask was mandatory compared to the Juneau airport, where he noticed he and the pilot were the only ones wearing face coverings.
May chose to quarantine himself at his brother’s Fresno, California home until he could get a flight back to Alaska. Upon his return, May’s priority was to get tested for COVID-19. He received his results in about 30 minutes.
May said is trying his best to do what the state has asked of every traveler.