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Infectious Disease

Maintain your distance

Keeping physically distant – at least six feet – from non-household members is one of the most important ways to prevent COVID-19.

Celebrating holidays safely

Keep a safe distance

To protect your health and the health of others, it’s safest to limit your trips outside your home, keep your social circles small and avoid large gatherings.

How do Alaskans know what a safe distance looks like?What's a safe distance? About the length of a 200 lb halibut: 6 feet!What's a safe distance? About the length of a grizzly bear: 6 feet!Stay safe Alaska. Six feet. Keep a safe distance.  

Risk levels vary based on 4 main facots: enclosed space; duration of interaction; crowds; and forceful exhalation.

Learn more by downloading our PDFSocial Distancing poster:

Social distancing saves lives! See the math of how we defeat the virus.

What you need to know

If you do go out — you need to adhere to these guidelines:

  • When in public spaces, make every effort to stay 6 feet away from others*

  • Wear a cloth face covering when in areas with non-household members

  • Obey all instructions at businesses requiring limited entry and a 6-foot boundary

  • After going out, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds

  • Launder your cloth face covering

  • Clean and disinfect any surfaces that have been in contact with non-household members

*Note: Social distancing is not required for members of the same household

Special guidelines for public gatherings (including union or political meetings, outdoor gatherings and religious services) are available.

What is strict social distancing?

What is "strict social distancing" as referenced in the State of Alaska's Health Order 6? The order states that strict social distancing should occur after a traveler has arrived with one negative test result taken within 72 hours of departure until 14 days after arrival in Alaska, or until a negative result is returned from a second COVID-19 test taken 5-14 days after arrival.

Here's what these travelers need to do to practice strict social distancing:

  • You may be in an outdoor public place, but stay six feet away from anyone not in your immediate household and wear a face covering.
  • You may arrange curbside shopping or have food delivery.
  • Please do not enter restaurants, bars, gyms, community centers, sporting facilities (i.e., ice rinks, gymnasiums, sports domes), office buildings, school or daycare facilities.
  • Do not participate in any group activities, including sporting events and practices, weddings, funerals, or other gatherings.

At a minimum, travelers would be practicing strict social distancing at least the first 5 days after arrival and until a second negative result is returned. This is different than a quarantine when you are a close contact to a known COVID patient. In that situation, a full 14-day quarantine is needed and there is no test-based strategy to shorten this period.

Understanding the risks

Keeping six feet apart from others is one of the key protective measures to keep COVID-19 in check. With cases rising in Alaska, we all need to consider what we can do to protect ourselves and others and keep cases down.

While holding events outdoors rather than indoors is one way to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, outdoor events are not risk free. In multiple instances, epidemiologists and public health nurses in Alaska have traced COVID-19 transmission to outdoor social gatherings. Key steps to reduce the risk associated with outdoor social gatherings include keeping them small, maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between people from different households, wearing fabric face-coverings especially if unable to maintain distance, and taking care to wash your hands frequently. Take special care with exertion, or when you are singing, yelling or talking loudly as vocal projections can spread the virus.

Bars are high-risk for COVID-19 transmission because people tend to spend prolonged periods of time socializing in close proximity to each other. People often need to speak loudly to be heard, and sometimes live music may involve singing that can facilitate the spread of the virus. Face masks need to be removed when people are drinking or eating. Alcohol can also impair judgment, making social distancing even harder to maintain. For all these reasons, bars are becoming a concerning source of COVID-19 transmission in many parts of the country. If you are at risk for serious illness from COVID-19, or you spend time with someone who is, it is important to do whatever you can to decrease your risk of acquiring COVID-19.

Next time you find yourself standing next to someone outside your trusted household bubble, take a look at the ground and see if you need to take a step backward to ensure there's at least six feet between you. If you're sitting, scoot your chair back a bit if you need to. Give folks extra room in stores and on the trails. Please be polite, kind and patient.

We know maintaining physical distance from others is especially hard for youth, so if you're a parent, please talk to your kids and encourage them to keep a safe distance, wear a face mask (unless they are under two or have health concerns) and to wash hands often. Remember, being outside is generally safer than being indoors and small groups are better than large ones.

Thank you, Alaskans. Be well, be safe, be kind!

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