Haines' 14-day quarantine is now a suggestion rather than a requirement
April 30, 2020
The Haines Borough’s quarantine resolution no longer “requires” people entering from other parts of the state to quarantine for 14 days, it “encourages” them to do so. The state's mandatory quarantine for those entering Alaska remains in effect.
At a meeting on Tuesday, assembly members voted 4-2 to approve revised language. Members Zephyr Sincerny and Stephanie Scott opposed the change.
Assembly member Josephson said in the days leading up to the meeting, she received a large volume of calls from residents on both sides of the issue--those who feel the borough’s current COVID-19 response doesn’t go far enough and those who “feel their constitutional rights are being trodden on.”
At the meeting, community members called in and submitted letters detailing a variety of views on the issue. Haines resident Clay Frick said the quarantine requirement has played a critical role in keeping the community safe.
Terry Pardee, who also spoke during public comment, said he didn’t see an urgent need to continue to keep the town shut down, especially with businesses struggling to stay afloat.
“We’ve been pretty well locked down here for eight weeks now,” Pardee said. “People who are scared to death of catching something, stay home. It’s pretty simple.”
Josephson said she proposed the change in language as a compromise between the two viewpoints. It still sends the message that the borough supports quarantine for individuals entering Haines without dictating what people do.
Assembly member Paul Rogers said he was opposed to the requirement to self-quarantine because it violated “all our fundamental rights and due processes.” He said contracting coronavirus is a risk not unlike having a heart attack or getting into a car accident and that making it a suggestion to quarantine rather than a requirement was the right thing to do.
“Every time I walk out my door, I take a risk of something happening to me,” Rogers said. “Last week the risk was walking down the road and my dog, which weighs eight pounds more than I do, decided to drag me down the road for twenty feet. These things happen.”
Both Sincerny and Scott expressed support for preserving the more stringent language in the original resolution.
“I think that it is in the best interest of Haines and all the residents to keep the language of requirement in there or at least have it be very strongly recommended,” said Sincerny, whose partner is the medical director of the Haines clinic. He said the quarantine measure has been a key component in keeping the virus from reaching Haines, and that keeping the stronger quarantine language encourages people to take the message seriously.
Haines’ quarantine resolution has never included an enforcement mechanism, even when it “required” compliance. The assembly originally approved the measure at the end of March. At its April 14 meeting, the assembly voted down an ordinance that would have allowed the measure to be enforced by attaching a $500 fine to quarantine violations.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the assembly also voted to extended the Haines emergency declaration until May 26.