ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Anchorage is relaxing coronavirus restrictions to allow indoor service again at restaurants, bars and theatres .
The city had ordered such businesses to stop serving people indoors this month because of a spike in virus cases in November, and they can now reopen with limitations, Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson said Tuesday.
Her new order also contains modified regulations for the hospitality industry and relaxes capacity restrictions at retail stores and gyms, the Anchorage Daily News reported. It takes effect Friday.
Quinn-Davidson said a decline in Anchorage’s COVID-19 cases is thanks to the December restrictions and people's “personal sacrifices."
“We’ve brought cases down. We freed up space at our hospitals, and now we find ourselves in a slightly better position,” she said. “The decisions we make in Anchorage have a ripple effect across the entire state.”
She said the improvements allowed her to ease the restrictions, which drew opposition from businesses that called them heavy-handed and said some stores would close without financial help.
While some businesses cheered more services getting to reopen, they also called the acting mayor's new order unsustainable.
“This must be a short-term compromise or businesses will continue to suffer insurmountable losses,” Sarah Oates, president and CEO of the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant & Retailers Association, said in a statement.
Under the new order:
— Bars, restaurants and breweries will be allowed to reopen at 25% of their capacity but have to stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m.
— Some entertainment venues, such as bingo halls, theatres and private clubs can reopen at 25% capacity.
— Retail stores, gyms, fitness centres and group exercise classes will be allowed to hold 50% of their capacity, up from 25% under the older restrictions.
— Personal care businesses, like salons, can increase their capacity to 50% but will still be barred from providing services that require masks to be removed, such as facials.
— Indoor sports competitions are still banned, but teams can practice inside as long as players maintain 10 feet (3 metres ) of distance.
Health experts warned that as restrictions are relaxed, virus cases are likely to rise.
The Associated Press