NEW TRAIL – Asa Dow wears a mask as he cuts a branch placed at the exit of the new 907 single-track mountain bike trail loop off the Sitka Cross Trail to officially open the trail Monday afternoon. Dow was one of about a dozen volunteers who built the trail, the first of its type in Sitka. The single-lane trail is exclusively for bikers and runs south to north. The Sitka Cycling Club, which organized the construction, will be building a second bicycle trail off the Cross Trail. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

New State Mandates Affect Food, Travelers

Sentinel Staff Writer
    The increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska has prompted Gov. Dunleavy to issue two new mandates, one dealing with arriving travelers, and the other restricting restaurants and places of entertainment.
    Locally, the City and Borough of Sitka put new restrictions in effect today, closing the Community Playground, all school playgrounds, and the Moller complex batting cages and playgrounds. The ballfields will remain open, city staff said.
    State and local officials emphasize their goal is to prevent and slow the spread of the virus so the health care system isn’t overwhelmed by getting too many cases at once.
    The federal Centers for Disease Control continues to encourage such prevention measures as staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes, frequent hand washing and maintaining social distancing – keeping a distance of six feet from another person.
    One of Dunleavy’s latest  mandates states that arriving travelers who have been in “higher risk” CDC Level 3 health notice areas (much of Europe and Asia) within the past 14 days must not go to work for 14 days after arriving in Alaska. They are also to stay home and avoid contact with other household members during this time.
    Travelers who have been anywhere outside Alaska in the past 14 days (medium risk) must keep a distance from others of about six feet, and not go to work or school “if you cannot be safely distanced from others.”
    “You must avoid crowded places (shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public,” the mandate says.
    The governor’s mandates are issued online by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, and are available at coronavirus.alaska.gov.
Food Mandate
    The governor’s other mandate relates to food:
    “With the goal of minimizing in-person interaction in enclosed spaces, effective March 18 (today) at 5 p.m. all bars, breweries, restaurants, food and beverage kiosks or trucks, and other establishments serving food or beverages within the State of Alaska shall be closed to the public dine-in service. All buffets and salad bars are closed to self-service. A copy of this order, or a sign communicating the closure information, shall be prominently posted by the person having control of the establishment.
    “Drive up windows, delivery and walk up service is allowed, with the governor urging operators and customers to use precautions in doing so to mitigate the potential transmission of COVID-19, including social distancing.”
    The mandate also closes entertainment facilities, including theaters, gyms and fitness centers, bowling alleys and bingo halls.
    The mandate will run from today through April 1.
    In Sitka, restaurant workers and managers told the Sentinel today they are working on plans to accommodate the public through take-out service, or adding delivery service.
    City Administrator John Leach said he agrees with the governor’s mandates: “I do think it’s necessary – anything to decrease community contact is going to help us flatten the curve.”
    He said in Sitka he has seen some businesses accommodate customers in the high-risk categories, and is pleased to see that happening.
    “That’s the community attitude we’re looking for,” he said, referring to special shopping hours grocery stores are setting aside for those in the coronavirus high risk category.
    Leach is meeting every morning at the fire hall with emergency responders to discuss the community’s response, and weekly with SEARHC officials. SEARHC officials are also meeting regularly to discuss the health organization’s response to the pandemic.
    “I think we’re doing everything we can,” Leach said. “We’re reaching out to other communities to make sure we’re not overlooking anything.”
    He said some new actions that have been suggested to him – required screening at the airport, stopping flights from coming in – are not possible at his level of authority, or for logistical reasons.
    “Further restrictions may be coming from the state and federal government to reduce the exposure to the community,” he said. “I would also like to remind people, getting through this will take a community effort. ... We’re doing things that make sense, we’re still following our guidelines.”

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 6-3-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:10 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Tuesday: 18

Total statewide – 505

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 47, and the cumulative number of deaths is 10.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.



Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020



For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website sitkasentinel.com. Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

Home delivery subscriptions are on hold, and after the end of the disaster emergency, subscriptions will be extended at no charge for the number of days that there was no home delivery.

The Sentinel will make its print edition available to the public as early in the day as possible. with all personnel taking precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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