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Frequently Asked Questions about Health Mandate 11

Health Mandate 11 - Social-Distancing

Issued March 27. Goes into effect March 28, 2020 at 5 p.m. Will be reevaluated by April 11, 2020. Find full text and attachments available at:  SOA March 27 COVID-19 Health Mandate 11

COVID-19 infections are continuing to spread across the country and Alaska. In an effort to slow the spread of the virus and prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed, Alaska is taking steps now.

Why are the mandates so important?

Mandates are only issued if, after careful consideration, they are deemed necessary to protect the lives of Alaskans. These mandates are designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which can cause severe illness and death, even in an individual of any age without underlying conditions. They are also designed to protect the ability of Alaskans to access medical care for non-COVID reasons.

What if someone isn’t complying with the mandates?

Alaskans are expected to comply with all mandates. These measures have been put in place to flatten the COVID-19 curve and protect the health of all Alaskans.

Alaskans who disregard the mandates are putting themselves and their communities at risk. To report non-compliance, send an email to

Who enforces the mandates?

State and local law enforcement are authorized to enforce individual compliance.

The primary focus is on education and voluntary compliance with the mandates. Law enforcement will respond to complaints and educate the public when they see violations that jeopardize the safety of individuals or the community.

However, individuals who recklessly violate the mandates do risk both civil fines and criminal prosecution. See [link to mandates] for more details on these penalties.

How do I keep from getting the virus?

The science is definitive that maintaining six feet or more from other people will greatly diminish your risk of getting the virus. This, and washing your hands, not touching your face, and wiping down surfaces are the best public health guidance about preventing the spread of this virus. Since there are no current vaccination or antiviral treatments, the primary goal is to prevent getting the virus in the first place. Standing six feet away or more from others is the best way to do this.

Should I wear a mask?

A mask will not necessarily prevent you from catching the virus. However, it will limit YOU from spreading the virus if you are infected, and reduce the projection of a sneeze or cough below six feet.

Can the mandates be changed?

Yes. As the situation changes and more information is available, the governor and public health officials can issue new orders and directives as needed.

Health Mandate 11: Statewide Social-Distancing

What is the purpose of mandate 11?

This mandate’s purpose is to restrict the movement of individuals within the State of Alaska in order to prevent, slow and otherwise disrupt the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

What does mandate 11 say?

All persons in Alaska, except for those engaged in essential health care services, public government services, and essential business activities, are mandated to remain at their place of residence and practice social distancing. Read the full mandate online at

How long does mandate 11 last?

The social distancing mandate went into effect at 5 p.m. on March 28, 2020 and remains in effect until the Governor of Alaska rescinds or modifies the order. It will be reevaluated by April 11.

Does this mandate apply if I don’t have any symptoms?

Yes. This mandate applies to every person (unless specifically exempted), whether or not they have symptoms. It is designed to prevent further community spread of the virus, which has shown to be transmittable from individuals who have no symptoms.

Do immediate family members need to maintain six feet from each other?

No, immediate family members may still be closer than six feet, as long as they are members of the same household. However, it’s important to know that COVID-19 can quickly pass between family members so it’s wise to wash your hands often, especially if someone has left the house on an essential errand. Anyone who is ill and self-isolating at home should be also isolated from family members as much as possible.

Can non-household members still gather as long as it is a group of less than 10?

Generally, no, unless a specific exemption applies.

Exemptions include outdoor recreation (if 6-foot distance is maintained between non-household members) and those outlined in the Alaska Essential Services and Critical Workforce Infrastructure Order.

Do I need a permit to move around?

No. When outside you must maintain a distance of six feet or more from other members of the public.

Can older people leave the house on essential errands?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that older adults, age 64 and older, and those with underlying health conditions not leave home at all, even to run errands. The State of Alaska recommends that these more vulnerable populations order food or necessary items using available services from stores and restaurants, or ask for help from a relative, friend or neighbor. For the safety of everyone, stay home.

Can I leave home to care for my elderly parents or friends? Or a family member or friend who has disabilities?

Yes. Be sure to follow social distancing guidelines to protect them and you. If you are sick with any respiratory illness, stay home and find someone else to help care for them.

Can I visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility?

No. This is difficult but necessary to protect facility staff and other patients. There are limited exceptions, such as if you are going to the hospital with someone younger than 18 or who is developmentally disabled and needs assistance. For most other situations, the order prohibits visitation to these kinds of facilities except at the end-of-life.

Can I get groceries?

Yes, grocery stores remain open but you must maintain six feet of social distancing. Take advantage of grocery delivery or pickup services. All Alaskans are encouraged to limit their number of weekly trips to the grocery store and to shop alone, do not bring the entire family into the store. If you MUST go to  the grocery store, you MUST remain six feet away from anyone.

Please keep at least six feet from others when you are out in public, wash your hands often and wipe down frequently-touched surfaces. Do not go grocery shopping if you are ill with a respiratory infection; if you are ill, you should be isolating yourself at home, including from family members.

Do I need to stock up on groceries? Do we expect to see supply chain disruptions?

No. It is a good idea to have enough food in your pantry that you don’t need to go shopping frequently, but there is no need to hoard large amounts of supplies. Please leave supplies on the shelves for fellow Alaskans who may need them. Alaska’s supply chain is intact and no disruptions are expected.

If I won’t be able to buy groceries or pay rent, are there services to help me?

Yes. You may be eligible for public assistance for food, medical care, rent, and more. Please reach out to the Division of Public Assistance for program questions:

For unemployment insurance questions, please go to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development:

Will public transportation be available, like buses?

Public transportation is only available for those who provide or obtain essential services. The number of riders is being limited to allow for enough physical distance between passengers.

Can I still go out to pick up my prescription?

Yes. You may leave your home to visit a pharmacy. If possible, use the drive-thru option to collect your prescription.

Will restaurants be open?

Restaurants may be open for takeout, drive-thru and delivery services only.

Can restaurants still provide take-out services under this mandate?

Yes, but they must do so while maintaining six feet between people at all times. If there are lines, restaurants must ensure people are adequately spaced. Systems must be implemented to prevent close contact when customers pick up food or pay for their order.

Are hotels and resorts essential businesses?

Only for the purpose of providing essential services, such as housing, or for isolation or quarantine.

Do I have to stay home and inside, or can I go outside for exercise and recreation?

Outdoor activity near your home is OK and encouraged for your health and well-being, but always keep at least six feet between people who do not live in your immediate household.

Social distancing requirements are in effect on paths, trails, sidewalks, riverbanks, beaches, parks, and anyplace outside on private or public property where people might gather.

Crowds of 10 people or more are prohibited.

Can I take my child to a playground?

Playgrounds may still be open, but they are not the safest places to be right now. Children tend to play in close proximity to each other in a playground while adults congregate to watch their children.

Choose recreational options that congregate people less.

If you take your child to a playground, bring your own cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer, and be sure to immediately sanitize hands and surfaces to prevent the spread of the virus from surface to surface.

What can I do? What’s open?

You must stay six feet away from non-family members. With that said, if you need to go shopping, there are delivery services and pickup options available at most grocery stores. However, if you need to go in person, you must remain six feet from everyone else.

  1. Health care facilities
  2. Gas stations
  3. Pharmacies
  4. Food: Grocery stores, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants
  5. Banks and credit unions
  6. Laundromats/laundry services
  7. Veterinary services
  8. Hardware stores
  9. Limited child care for essential workers
  10. Essential federal, state and local government functions will also remain open, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.
  11. Reference the Alaska Essential Services and Critical Workforce Infrastructure Order for a full list.
What’s closed?

Many businesses are closed to gathering.

  1. Dine-in restaurants – except for drive-thru, delivery and carry-out
  2. Bars and nightclubs
  3. Entertainment venues
  4. Gyms and fitness studios
  5. Public events and gatherings
  6. Convention centers
  7. Hair and nail salons
  8. Reference the Alaska Essential Services and Critical Workforce Infrastructure Order for a full list of what is open.
Can I call a plumber?

Yes. Plumbing and other critical home repairs are considered essential businesses. You may call a plumber or other home repair businesses if you need one, but keep physical distance between you and the repair people who come into your home and practice proper hygiene. Non-critical plumbing needs should be delayed.

Are marijuana dispensaries allowed to operate?

Potentially. A dispensary may only operate if it can operate under the requirements in the Alaska Essential Services and Critical Workforce Infrastructure Order.

See Alaska Essential Services and Critical Workforce Infrastructure Order II(b)(i):
For purposes of this Order, Essential Services and Critical Infrastructure industries and entities in Alaska include: “Healthcare Operations: companies and institutions involved in the research and development, manufacture, distribution, warehousing, and supplying of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology therapies, consumer health products, services, or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services.”

See also II(b)(vi)(20):
All other businesses that can maintain Social Distancing Requirements and prohibit congregations of no more than 10 people in the business at a time (including employees).”

I work in a “critical infrastructure” job, but I don’t think that this particular work is critical, or I don’t think that my employer is taking steps to keep the workers safe. What do I do?

“Critical Infrastructure” businesses that have employees traveling into Alaska or traveling between communities within Alaska are required to submit a safety plan or protocol.

If you believe individuals or businesses are violating mandates, you should email

Child care facilities can remain open – are they exempt from social distancing?

Child care facilities can only operate if they follow the new recommendations for increased hygiene  and social distancing, which is defined as: “maintaining at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands.”

Child care facilities should only be used by those who need child care to work at a critical job.

I am homeless or at risk of losing my housing.  Where can I go for a place to stay?

Although people experiencing homelessness are exempted from the requirement to remain in their residence, there are ongoing efforts to provide temporary housing. See a list of Community Resources for Food and Shelter.

I do not feel safe staying at my residence. Who can I call?

If you are experiencing an imminent threat to your physical safety, please call 911. See a list of Domestic Violence Shelters and Crisis Lines.