In late November, Anchorage Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson issued a “modified hunker down” order throughout the municipality for the entire month of December, a reaction to the sharp incline in coronavirus cases reported in the Anchorage area. The action closed restaurants to indoor dining, and limited all retail businesses to 25 percent capacity,
Saturday, Valley residents joined a protest in opposition to the order and in support of Southcentral business. The Last Frontier Alaska group organized the rolling rally that featured about 50 Valley residents who departed from the Trunk park and ride Saturday afternoon just after 2 p.m.. Participants met at the Park and Ride off Trunk Road near Palmer, and headed to pick join more supporter in Eagle River before making their way to Anchorage. The goal was to spend money at local businesses in Alaska’s largest city on the final Saturday before the Christmas holiday.
“The main thing here is there are people who are struggling,” Shane Wills said before the group left to Anchorage. “With the shutdowns, big box stores are going strong. They have the financial capability of going strong. Little businesses are struggling. This is all about the community coming together to support those who are struggling in our community and neighboring communities.”
Wills said he felt the rolling rally was motivated by a sense of community, not politics.
“In my book regardless of politics or anything, those that are struggling because of the lockdowns need to be supported,” WIlls said. “Who better than the community to do it.
Sen. Mike Shower, who represents District E in the Mat-Su, also attended. Shower said he also did not see the event as an effort to support Southcentral Alaska communities.
“We heard about it, saw it on Facebook. It did not look like a political thing at all with so many small businesses hurting, just like out here. But we are more open,” Shower said. “It looked like a great effort to go out and send a symbolic message and say, hey we’re here, we’re neighbors. We support you. Hopefully you can keep your businesses open so you don’t lose everything. We want to help people out.”
Shower said he saw it as more of a holiday event.
“Hey it’s Christmas. Let’s go help our neighbors out because a lof of them have lost their businesses. People have lost their jobs. (My wife and I) are doing OK, so let’s go spread that around.”
The current hunker down order in Anchorage is set to expire Jan. 1 at 8 a.m. The order also restricts indoor gyms, salons and personal care services providers to 25 percent capacity, and limits indoor gatherings to six and outdoor gatherings to 10. Bingo halls, theatres, private clubs and other entertainment facilities are also closed, and organized sports are also closed to indoor competitions.
“This is not an easy decision. I have been working for weeks with our community partners to find alternatives to issuing this type of emergency order. But I must protect our community, and that requires issuance of this (emergency order),” Quinn-Davidson said in a press release when the municipality officials announced the order, “The current trajectory is not sustainable, however, hope is on the horizon - a vaccine is near - but we need to together until that day to protect the health and safety of our community.”
The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Alaska Dec. 13 and the first Alaskans received vaccinations on Dec. 15. Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink received her vaccine Dec. 18 at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center.
There have been single-day totals of less than 150 cases only twice since Quinn-Davidson announced the order on Nov. 25. Anchorage’s largest number during the month of Dec. was 339 on Dec. 5.