Dear Friends and Family of ATA Lodge
We hope that you are continuing to stay safe and weather this storm we have all been subjected to.
As promised, we have been continuing to monitor the changes to Alaska State policy in regards to the Cornavirus and communicate any update as to how that effects ATA Lodge after the 21st of May. We anticipated an announcement from the Governor of Alaska on Tuesday the 19th of May which could have the potential of effecting our ability to open or not. That did happen and huge steps forward for the state of Alaska were taken, leap-frogging straight from Phase 2 of the reopening plan to Phase 4. In effect announcing the simultaneous implementation of Phase 3 and 4. So, what does that mean in practical terms? In summary it means:
- Business is to return to normal for Alaskan residents and businesses on the road system as of Friday morning. Things are to return to the pre COVID19 “norm”, while continuing to advise but not enforce the practice of certain safety precautions.
- BUT (and this is a big “but” for us), this does not apply to remote locations off the road system like Bristol Bay, that remain under lock down protocols and mandates. Also, local communities will have some say as to how and when those restrictions are lifted.
- Also it DOES NOT APPLY to anyone that is traveling to Alaska by any means from outside of the State. This means that the 14 day quarantine mandate remains in place at least until June 2 for anyone arriving in Alaska from out of state, although it will be reviewed daily.
We have also participated in the Katmai Service Providers and CUA Holders conference call that took place today (May 21). This call was to see what local Bristol Bay and National Park Authorities say about where things stand at this time as to how operations in the borough of Lake and Penn as well as within the National Park will be effected. That hour long call can be summarized as follows: We do not know if we will be able to open or not and if we do we still may be shut down at a later date depending on national, state and local developments.
Therefore, we are not in a position to announce or change anything different from what we have already communicated. So to recap:
- We have postponed opening until at least July 5th, 2021. This is to be extended if local circumstances don’t change enough to allow us to operate.
- All June bookings have been automatically rescheduled to the same week next season in June of 2021. 100% of all money paid to date for those bookings have been applied to the rescheduled bookings.
- If you determine that you would prefer to change weeks, let us know and we will work with you to see what may be available either later this season if we are able to open, or another available week in 2021.
- We will not be extending the rescheduling option to 2022 since your weeks have availability in 2021. If you can not take advantage of this rescheduling option, then unfortunately your deposit will be forfeit.
- All other bookings are still not being rescheduled.
- We plan to give our next update no later than June 17th, after the next Katmai National Park Service Providers and CUA Holders conference call on the 16th. But if there are significant changes we will announce them as soon as possible.
We have a plan which we believe will take us into next season versus playing the short game which will be fraught with uncertainty, stress and deeper financial risk. All present and future decisions will have the priority to protecting the health and lives of all those depending upon our good judgement whether staff, or guests.
One thing we are watching closely, is whether or not the influx of large numbers of season workers involved in the commercial fishing industry will result in an increase in COVID19 cases in Bristol Bay. So far there have been no reported cases in King Salmon or Naknek. Seasonal workers are continuing to flood in to the Bay and undergoing quarantine. In Dillingham, there was a cannery worker that tested positive for COVID19 at the end of his quarantine period, resulting in his extraction from Bristol Bay and the need for everyone who had quarantined with him to spend a second 14 day quarantine period. Also, as of the 20th of May, one new case was reported in our local borough of Lake and Penn. Obviously, if there is a spike in cases in Bristol Bay with this annual migration of the seasonal fishing work force, further measures are expected to be implemented to stem the pandemic from spreading to the vulnerable local communities there who do not have access to adequate health care, and who are considered more susceptible to the disease.
Here is an edited (abridged) report from the Anchorage Daily News that was published on the 19th of May, which may help you to see what is happening and the state of affairs at this time:
Alaska will fully reopen its economy on Friday at 8 a.m., Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced Tuesday evening.
Bars, restaurants, gyms, retail stores and all other businesses will be able to open ahead of the Memorial Day weekend without any capacity restrictions imposed by the state.
“It will all be open, just like it was prior to the virus," Dunleavy said.
The state is moving to phases 3 and 4 of its reopening plan simultaneously.
The governor said the state is still advising protocol like staying six feet away from each other while in businesses and wearing masks when near other people in public places, but the regulations previously imposed will be lifted.
Businesses will not be required to have hand sanitizer or enact social distancing policies as they are now.
The low number of cases overall drove the state’s decision, he said.
The transition keeps Alaska at the forefront of states moving to reopen their economy as the spread of the coronavirus starts to taper off locally.
Dunleavy said individual cities and boroughs may choose to move at a different pace. The 14-day interstate travel quarantine remains in place and is set to expire June 2. Dunleavy said his staff is talking with airlines this week to find ways to allow travelers to enter the state in a safe way, and that quarantine mandate will be reevaluated daily.
Several other mandates put in place by the governor remain in effect, including limited travel to Alaska communities off the road system, and measures to protect the fishing industry.
State guidance for Alaskans
A presentation by Gov. Dunleavy on Tuesday reminded the public that “the success of remaining open now lies fully in the hands of Alaskans.” As the state moves toward a more comprehensive reopening, officials recommend that Alaskans continue taking the following measures to protect themselves and others from contracting COVID-19:
- Stay at least 6 feet from people who aren’t members of your household.
- Continue washing your hands frequently.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly.
- If you’re feeling sick, stay at home. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, get tested.
- Wear a mask or face covering in public places where it’s difficult to maintain physical distancing.
- If you’re working remotely, work with your employer to see if you can continue doing so.