ALL IN THE SAME TACO BOAT – Sitkans, many wearing face masks, line up this afternoon at the Sitka Elks Lodge food booth. With the pandemic, most of this year’s Sitka Independence Day events have been modified, but not entirely canceled. The American Legion and Sizzling Chow Cuisine also will have outdoor food booths. While there’s no downtown parade, there is a parade of classic cars that will tour Sitka streets beginning at 1 p.m. at Whale Park. A sing-along and military salute will take place on Totem Square 7 p.m. Friday and a fireworks display will take place 11:30 Friday night over Sitka Channel, with spectators asked to follow social distancing recommendations. The Rotary Club is holding its annual Duck Race on the fourth. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Canada Extends Ban On Big Cruise Ships

By The Associated Press
and SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer

Large cruise ships will continue to be prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s transport minister announced today.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the order applies to cruise ships with overnight accommodations and more than 100 passengers and crew. The move extends and expands an order issued in mid-March that barred ships with more than 500 passengers from Canadian waters until July.

Smaller ships will be allowed to operate after July 1, but only with the permission of provincial and regional health officials. However, vessels with more than 12 passengers will be barred from going to the Arctic until at least Oct. 31, for fear that one might carry the virus to a remote northern community.

“Keeping Canadians and transportation workers safe continues to be my top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Garneau said.

Visit Sitka Executive Director Rachel Roy said she’s still sorting out the details of the announcement but that it will likely mean the cancellation of the remaining large ships on the Sitka schedule, including the Silver Seas’ Silver Muse (596 passengers), Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas (2,500), Oceana Cruises’ Regatta (684) and others.

Some of those ships had more than one port call planned for Sitka, she said.

But Roy still has hopes that the smaller ships that are not affected by the Canadian decision will come to Sitka starting in mid-July. Those may include Alaskan Dream Cruises vessels (12 to 70 passengers), and the UnCruise (70 passengers), among others.

“It all will come down to what the governor decides on the 14-day quarantine,” she said of Mandate 10. “That has to end in order for the ships to bring visitors in.”

An announcement was expected today on whether Gov. Dunleavy would extend the 14-day quarantine rule past June 2, in order to prevent and slow the spread of the virus.

Garneau said he understands this will create a significant economic hardship for Canada’s tourism industry. He indicated the federal tourism department is working on a plan to help. Last year, 140 cruise ships brought more than 2 million visitors to Canadian ports. A 2016 study found the cruise contributed more than $3 billion Canadian (US $2.1 billion) to Canada’s economy, including nearly $1.4 billion Canadian (US $1.01 billion) in direct spending by cruise lines and their passengers. More than 23,000 Canadians were directly or indirectly employed because of cruise ships.

British Columbia, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces benefit the most. Prince Edward Island will be among the areas hurt by the order, said the CEO of the island’s Charlottetown Harbour Authority, Mike Cochrane.

“The human impact is dramatic, there’s no question about it,” he said. “To see it all come to a halt, it’s a very sad day for us.”

“You look at mom-and-pop shops, restaurants, tour bus operators, taxis, Green Gables — it reaches everywhere,” Cochrane added.

Cruise ships were one of the first and worst-hit sectors from in the pandemic, with hundreds of passengers falling ill on ships sailing in various parts of the world. Transport Canada monitored hundreds of ships with Canadians on board as the vessels battled outbreaks or weren’t allowed to dock in planned ports as countries closed to foreign tourists to keep the coronavirus out.

Several hundred Canadians were flown back to Canada and quarantined in Ontario after disembarking ships with outbreaks that docked in Japan and California. At least a dozen passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship were diagnosed with COVID-19 after being quarantined in Trenton. One Canadian who had been on board the Diamond Princess died in Japan in March after being hospitalized with COVID-19.

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-2-20)

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 11:15 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Monday: 39

Total statewide – 1,017

Total (cumulative) deaths – 14

Active cases in Sitka – 8 (6 resident; 2 non-resident)

Recovered cases in Sitka – 10 (7 resident; 3 non-resident)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 68.

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

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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

NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

TO READERS AND ADVERTISERS

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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