By Melinda Munson and Gretchen Wehmhoff

 Assembly members voted unanimously in Tuesday’s special meeting to approve a shelter-in-place directive, which took effect Wednesday at 10 p.m. and will remain in place for at least 14 days.

Skagway, which is geographically isolated, currently has no cases of COVID-19.

“We’re one of the last places in Alaska that doesn’t have a problem with this, yet,” said Assembly member Dustin Stone when he urged the body to enact a shelter-in-place recommendation immediately and not wait for Skagway’s first case of COVID-19.

Resolution 20-11R requests that “all Skagway residents reduce exposure by staying at home, not physically going to work and having one person doing their shopping and other activities that include close contact with others.”

Critical businesses may remain open. These businesses include grocery stores, hardware stores, liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, banks, laundromats, restaurants (curbside pickup only), hotels and utilities. Critical businesses are expected to maintain social distancing with employees and community members.

Residents are encouraged to “get fresh air without contacting others.”

As of March 25, the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported 59 confirmed cases of COVID-19. One Alaskan, who was in Washington State, died from the virus.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the assembly also voted unanimously to pass Resolution 20-09R, directing anyone returning to Skagway from outside of Alaska or “that came from the City and Borough of Juneau, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough or any community with know cases of COVID-19” to self-isolate for 14 days. Self-isolation includes avoiding family and friends, the grocery store, the post office and the clinic.

All self-isolating community members should notify the Dahl Memorial Clinic (DMC) during business hours at 907-983-2255. Those experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should call the clinic’s emergency number at 907-983-2025.

The MOS has two rooms available for anyone unable to self-isolate. Local businesses such at The Skagway Brewing Company are currently renting self-isolation units. Anyone self-isolating who needs help with errands can find a community of volunteers on the Facebook groups Skagway Marketplace and Skagway Bulletin Board. The DMC can also assist.

Currently, the municipality’s request that travelers returning to Skagway from affected areas of Alaska self-isolate is just that, a request.

“We believe that people realize the seriousness of the situation and will voluntarily comply with the direction from the CDC, DHSS, our municipal officials and emergency responders. If people chose not to voluntarily comply, the assembly would have to discuss possible legislative actions that could include enforcement,” wrote Cody Jennings, tourism director for the municipality, in an email to The Skagway News.

Travelers disembarking in Skagway from the Lower 48, or a foreign country, are now legally obligated to self-isolate.

On March 23, Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued a state mandate which requires travelers who arrive in Alaska sign a State of Alaska Travel Declaration Form and immediately self-quarantine for 14-days, at their home or the place they indicated on their form.

Adam Crum, commissioner of DHHS, stated that the mandates supersede any local government travel restrictions.

“The failure to follow this order is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000, or imprisonment of not more than one year, or both pursuant to Alaska Statute 12.55.035 and Alaska Statute 12.55.135,” Crum said.

Dahl Curbside location. Photo by Melinda Munson

In response to COVID-19, procedural changes have been made to the town’s only clinic. The Dahl Memorial Clinic (DMC) is advising patients to “postpone or cancel all non-urgent or elective appointments for three months to decrease the overall impact of COVID-19 on the Alaska healthcare structure,” in a public notice dated March 18. The clinic is following guidelines issued by DHHS.

The clinic will remain open. Community members who are unsure if their medical issue qualifies as urgent should contact the clinic for guidance.

Curbside medication pickup is now available during business hours. Patients should park in the designated spot at the front of the clinic and call 907-983-2255, ext. 2. An employee will walk the prescriptions to the vehicle.

A stack of flyers notifying travelers of new community guidelines sit on the counter near Aaron Thomas of Alaska Seaplanes. Photo by Melinda Munson.

Starting March 23, DMC will provide curbside testing for COVID-19. Concerned persons should call the clinic to determine if testing is necessary.

Bright yellow flyers distributed by the municipality outline the new community guidelines and can be found at the airport and ferry terminal.

“It doesn’t bring happiness to any of us,” said Assembly member Orion Hanson, describing the resolutions as “proactive.” Ketchikan and Sitka have enacted similar measures. Visit and click on the red COVID-19 banner to view the new resolutions.