Dillingham’s travel quarantine still in place, despite changes to state and federal recommendations

Feb 25, 2021

The City has yet to discuss how vaccinations will affect travel requirements or if the vaccination cards can act as a “free pass” from quarantine. The council could discuss this at its March 4 meeting.

Welcome to Dillingham, 2/25/2021
Credit Brian Venua/KDLG

There have been a lot of changes to COVID-19 health and safety recommendations in recent weeks. Alaska’s emergency declaration for the COVID-19 pandemic expired on February 14. The CDC has also changed its quarantine guidelines for people who’ve been vaccinated.

All this has sowed some confusion about how Dillingham City ordinances compare to federal and state restrictions.

Emergency Operations Commander Richard Thompson said under Dillingham’s current ordinance, people who have been fully vaccinated still need to quarantine for 10 days and self-monitor for symptoms for the next four days after travel. 

“The guideline that the CDC has issued is directed toward people who have known exposures to a person who was COVID positive,” Thompson said. “If these people have been vaccinated, they are not required under the guideline to quarantine because of that known exposure. We have a travel quarantine to eliminate the potential of unknown exposures.”

He said there are a few exceptions for quarantine in Dillingham, including travel as a critical worker.

“These are two separate categories of travelers,” Thompson said. “If a person was in travel quarantine and defined as a critical infrastructure worker, the City was not allowed to require a quarantine when they were ‘in the conduct of’ that critical infrastructure work. However, the city could, and does, require that they remain in quarantine at all other times, and get someone to bring them groceries, mail, etc.”

The other exception to quarantine restrictions is for people travelling to Dillingham for certain needs. 

“If a person was travelling for critical personal needs which again means things like getting groceries, doing your banking, going to court, whatever,” Thompson said. “The state required that they be allowed to do so, but again they have to be in quarantine while they’re here in Dillingham both before those activities and when they’re done with those activities.”

In both cases, a traveler can leave Dillingham before 10 days are up. 

The City has yet to discuss how vaccinations will affect travel requirements or if the vaccination cards can act as a “free pass” from quarantine.

“There has not been a decision made as to whether or not the emergency order on requiring quarantine on all persons will change,” said Thompson. “That’s entirely up to the manager and the City Council. The next City Council meeting — the first time it might possibly be discussed — would be the fourth of next month.”

The penalties for breaking quarantine are still in place as well, Thompson said. 

“Quarantine violation reports are investigated and violators are cited where warranted,” he said. “They are a citable offense — that’s a ticket — and not arrestable. I can think of about a dozen instances where the public has called the EOC and reported a possible violation.”

The City Council is holding a COVID-19 community workshop tonight at 6 - 7:30 p.m. You can participate and ask questions via Zoom — call 1(346) 248-7799 or listen to the KDLG broadcast on 670AM radio. The meeting will be posted to our website after.

 Contact the author at brian@kdlg.org or call (907) 842-2200