Today, Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson announced that on May 21, Emergency Order 13v5 (EO-13v5) will be revoked, removing the requirement for mandatory masking throughout the Municipality of Anchorage. This change comes as a result of updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advising that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks in most public settings, increased vaccination rates, and decreasing case counts in Anchorage. This is a significant milestone and reflects the effectiveness of vaccines, and the commitment of our community over the past year to get us to this moment. The change will go into effect on Friday, May 21, 2021 at 8:00 a.m.
With the removal of EO-13v5, the Municipality will no longer require city-wide mask usage in indoor or outdoor settings. Consistent with CDC guidance, unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to continue wearing masks. A mask mandate applying only to unvaccinated individuals would have presented enforcement challenges and increased the burden on businesses.
This change does not prevent individual businesses or organizations from continuing to require masks, and individuals should be prepared to wear a mask in public when necessary. The federal mask mandate remains in effect and requires masking during public transit – including on planes, trains, and buses – and the CDC still recommends vaccinated people wear masks when in health care facilities or in congregate settings such as homeless shelters.
“Our decisions about Emergency Orders have always taken into account national guidance as well as local metrics, especially vaccination rates and case counts,” said Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson. “The end of the mask mandate reflects the progress we’ve made and the strong position we’re in today.”
For the first time since July 2020, the Municipality of Anchorage has moved from high alert status to intermediate alert status according to the State of Alaska’s alert levels. This is a significant moment for Anchorage. The 14-day average for new daily COVID-19 cases dropped below 10 per 100,000 as of Thursday, May 13. As of Friday, May 14, over 60% of eligible Anchorage residents, over 135,000 people, had received at least one dose of vaccine. Local vaccination numbers are expected to continue to climb with the recent expansion of vaccine eligibility to the 12-15 year old population.
“We’re seeing vaccination rates go up and case counts come down as a result,” said Dr. Janet Johnston, Anchorage Health Department Epidemiologist. “Getting vaccinated remains the most important thing we can do to beat this pandemic, and being fully vaccinated is what makes it so you do not need to wear a mask. I strongly urge residents to continue to get vaccinated and follow CDC guidance to protect our progress into summer.”
The mask mandate will be revoked as of Friday, May 21, 2021 at 8:00 a.m. and replaced by a mask advisory. This effective date protects students, who are largely unvaccinated, through the end of the Anchorage School District’s academic year.