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Dillingham City Council extends the city manager's emergency powers by one day

Brian Venua

During the public hearing, several people questioned why the city still required people to quarantine for 10 days after travel. The council couldn’t address its quarantine at the meeting because the public wasn't notified in advance.

The Dillingham City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to extend the city manager’s authority to enact COVID-19 regulations.

But the extension is for just a single additional day, with the powers now ending at 11:59 p.m. on April 1.

The council made the decision so the authority did not expire before they were able to hold a meeting on the issue — and consider whether to extend the manager’s authority through the summer. Originally, it was set to end on March 31, leaving a one-day gap between its expiration and the next City Council meeting.

The city manager’s authority stems from a City Council vote in November. The council can still change or reject any actions that are drafted by the manager.

Since November, the former city manager enacted a rule that shortened Dillingham’s travel quarantine to 10 days.

During the public hearing on Thursday, several people questioned why the city still required people to quarantine for 10 days after travel.

Jack Savo, a wrestling coach, said the restrictions were holding back student athletes.

“I don’t have a problem wearing a mask. I don’t. And I think that may be against what other people think," he said. "What I am against is hamstringing our young adults, our young student athletes and our young students by what I see as needless quarantine requirements when other states and communities have proven that their current mitigation measures without quarantine work."

Following the public hearing, Councilmember Aksel Buholm asked whether the council could address quarantine requirements at the meeting.

“The biggest thing I’m hearing from everybody is the quarantine part," he said. "How do we get that on the table right now?”

The city’s quarantine requirement was not included on Thursday’s agenda. The council couldn’t address it at the meeting because the public wasn’t notified in advance. But Interim City Manager Gregg Brelsford said the council can schedule a special meeting this month.

“It wouldn’t necessarily have to wait 30 more days if the council called a special meeting with that on the agenda,” he said.

Bristol Bay’s health organizations continue to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine in communities around the region. Heading into the spring, the Dillingham City Council will reevaluate COVID-19 regulations and restrictions.

Councilmember Bill Rodowalt suggested that the council start to consider how to safely roll back COVID-19 restrictions.

“Looking at the percentage of people who are vaccinated would be an important thing we would look at there," he said. "I have the same feeling as a lot of people. I’m tired of COVID, but I also know that we need to protect the community.”

Rodowalt said he is open to the idea of relaxing regulations, but that he’s not sure it would be safe to remove the quarantine requirement because case numbers could still spike, which could put residents at risk and force entities like the school to shut down again.

There will be a public hearing next month on whether the council should extend the expiration date of the city manager’s emergency powers to September 3.

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.
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