Alaska has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19, however, there are still travel restrictions in place that will make it difficult to travel to Alaska until later this summer.
— Alaska has had the lowest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in all 50 states and is now back open for businesses around the state. However, there are still restrictions in place that potential visitors need to be aware of before making travel plans. Currently there is a 14-day isolation requirement for all international and domestic visitors. However, the governor of Alaska, Mike Dunleavy, has suggested his administration is evaluating it daily and will make a decision very soon on lifting the requirement. Possibly as early as June 2.
Alaska’s hospitality industry began reopening on May 22 under the “Open Alaska Responsibly” plan. Hotels, lodges, restaurants, campgrounds, fishing charters and museums are all free to open for business while meeting CDC cleaning and social distancing guidelines. All Alaskan’s are free to travel between communities on the Alaska road system, but communities that are not reachable by road, remain closed to travel.
“Despite Alaskan’s doing an excellent job of minimizing the spread of the Coronavirus, the tourism industry of Alaska is going to see the largest decrease ever recorded.” Says Tim Bell, publisher of Bell’s Travel Guides, and Alaska travel writer for over 50 years. “The impact of this will affect the businesses that cater to visitors for the next several years at least. “That being said, the mood in the State is optimistic and operators are looking forward to welcoming visitors, when it is safe to once again travel.”
The CDC renewed the No Sail Order for Cruise Ships on April 15, which will be in effect until July 24 unless rescinded or modified. Based on the continued spread of the virus in the continental United States, it seems unlikely this order will be changed in time to save the Alaska cruise ship season. Considering 60% of Alaska’s 2.2 annual visitors arrived by cruise ship in 2019 this will leave a massive hole in the market. Canada has also extended it's ban on large cruise ships at Canadian ports until October 2020.
Driving to Alaska is also currently restricted due to border closures between Canada and the U.S. until June 22, for all but essential services. Within Canada, there are currently border restrictions being enforced when entering the Yukon. Travelers can choose to pass through the Yukon in 24 hours or self-isolate for 14 days. The Yukon is planning to open campgrounds in June, but only to Yukon residents.
Although the outlook for the summer travel season is not good, Tim Bell still sees reason to be optimistic about the recovery. “After dealing with Alaska business owners for over five decades, I am expecting they will do what they always do. They will put their heads down, work harder than ever, and when this crisis is over, they’ll be prepared to welcome visitors back to the greatest destination in the world."
So, while Alaska opens its businesses and waits for the return of visitors, it is never too soon to start mapping out a plan for an Alaska Vacation. Bell’s Travel Guides produces the most detailed free travel publications about the Alaska. They include maps, descriptions of towns and cities and listings for hotels, lodges, campgrounds and things to do.
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