Travelers will now have an easier time getting to Alaska, as the state no longer requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival.
The change in travel restrictions came on Sunday, Feb. 14, when the state's emergency declaration expired. Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy now wants to transition the state into a recovery phase, outlining several plans to do so, including the removal of the COVID-19 testing requirement.
According to the Associatded Press, Dunleavy ordered his commissioners and state employees to continue following the policies implemented under the emergency declaration until officials determine which ones are still needed.
"My administration will begin moving Alaska, its economy, and our lives forward through this transition and recovery process," Dunleavy said in a statement. "Make no mistake about it, the virus may be with us for some time. But the data shows that the worst is most likely behind us."
The state made several health advisories on Sunday, including encouraging Alaskans to continue wearing face masks and practice social distancing. Alaska has never had a statewide mask mandate, though Anchorage, its largest city, does have this policy in place, according to the AP. Dunleavy's orders will not impact any rules put in place by local municipalities.
Despite removing the COVID-19 testing requirement for entry into Alaska, Dunleavy says travelers can still choose to get tested upon arrival at the airport for the next few months. Testing will not be free, however, and previously cost $250 for non-Alaska residents, so visitors may want to find a testing center in their own home state.
Since the pandemic began, Alaska has reported 54,282 total resident cases of the virus, and 280 deaths. The state, which has a population of about 728,000, has also given 175,135 vaccine doses, the AP reports.
"No matter what metrics you look at, Alaska is doing pretty good, probably better than most states," Dunleavy said at a news conference. "And so this gives us the confidence that as we move forward, we're going to continue to manage this virus as well or better than most other locales."
Jessica Poitevien is a Travel Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but always on the lookout for the next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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