Alaska Will Require COVID-19 Testing For Visitors

Filed Under: Travel

It’s not just countries that are developing plans to reopen to tourists, but also states and territories. In particular, here in the US we’ve seen both Alaska and Hawaii introduce significant restrictions on visitors, given the unique challenges those two states face.

Well, it looks like Alaska will once again be welcoming tourists as of tomorrow… if they get tested.

Alaska will require COVID-19 test

For the past few months it has only been possible to travel to Alaska if you self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. There will finally be an alternative to that, as reported by the Anchorage Daily News.

As of Saturday, June 6, 2020, visitors can skip a 14-day quarantine by getting a COVID-19 test, either before departing for Alaska, or upon arrival in Alaska:

  • Travelers can get tested before travel, but need to do so no more than 72 hours before the departure to Alaska
  • Alternatively there will be options to get tested upon arrival, either if the traveler wasn’t able to get tested before departure, or wasn’t able to do so within 72 hours of departure; in these cases travelers would be asked to self-quarantine until test results come back
  • Travelers who are tested upon arrival will be given a voucher at the airport for a second test, which they must get in Alaska seven to 14 days after the arrival date in the state
  • In the event that tests come back positive, travelers will be asked to isolate at their own expense and will not be able to travel until cleared by a public health professional
  • The cost of airport testing isn’t yet known

As Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy describes this initiative:

“This is the thing that is going to get us through this: If we work together — we’re still going to see an increase in cases — but if we work together, it won’t be that unmanageable spike that a lot of folks have predicted.”

Bottom line

A 14-day self-quarantine more or less kills tourism to just about anywhere, so it’s logical to see Alaska introduce some alternative. Alaska is becoming the first US state to require COVID-19 testing for domestic visitors in order to skip a quarantine.

What’s still not known is how expensive the airport testing will be for those who don’t get tested within 72 hours of their departure.

Comments
  1. Imagine how much money they’d have for testing and treatment if they defunded the police! Good start though I guess.

  2. I’ve got a trip to Juneau later this month….

    Never been, just want to explore.
    But, not sure I’m comfortable taking a test to see if I can visit another part of the USA.

    That seems….not right.
    I’ll think on it, but imagine I’ll cancel and go to another state that doesn’t do stuff like that.

    Most of my bookings are refundable, and I can give my money to a state that acts like America.

  3. As with other articles like this: I warn you all to make sure you can get a test before you buy your plane tickets.

    My group will not test asymptomatic people for the purpose of travel.
    We also print indication for test on the result (so if you lie, your test result will say COVID negative, indication Fever/Cough) which will prevent you from getting on the plane anyway

    Insurers only cover the test under certain circumstances. Travel is not one of those. The last patient complaint I had: patient charged $696 out of pocket for COVID test

  4. Personally, I find the idea of Covid-19 testing great , before or after flight. It helps to eliminate spreader and therefore protect the healthy ones flying. I prefer it before flying, so to elimate possible infections on board. But QR showed with the latest infections in Greece. The airlines are either overwhelmed or do not know exactly how to do it properly. The airlines want pax to fly and will do what is good for their revenues as being too strict or have no pax at all. So its up to the health authorities at the destinations as the last barrier to stop the spreading and if so isolate the infected with further consequences.
    I am actually not so afraid of flying, I am more afraid of the consequences abroad when tested positive and be forced to comply to foreign regulations even if its against my will. That scares the hell out of me!

  5. One thing I’d point out. It’s not entirely clear that the “second test within 7-14 days of arrival” requirement applies only if you test at the airport. I’ve seen different interpretations of this, and the state’s own website and travel declaration form aren’t particularly clear. It’s equally unclear what happens if your trip is less than 14 days. Do you really need to plan an additional day or two in Anchorage or Fairbanks at the end to get your test so you can leave?

    As JRMW says also make sure you actually can get an “elective” COVID test wherever you live. Just so everyone knows, I’ve seen prices anywhere from $109 to $249 a pop if you’re paying cash.

  6. Writing as someone with a group trip to Alaska on the books later this month.

    Functionally and practicably speaking this policy is nearly the same as the quarantine policy. In many locations in the US it still remains nearly impossible to get a COVID test if not symptomatic or in an at-risk category. And then if you get a test – getting the result back in less than 72 hours is questionable. So end result is – can’t travel to Alaska for vacation.

    I get the public health intent of this policy – but it doesn’t work until there’s widespread testing for anyone availability.

  7. There is ZERO enforcement of the travel mandates by Alaska.

    No need to follow this ridiculous requirement, we’ll be going to Alaska as normal without such hoops to jump through. I’m sure the governor will rescind this soon anyways given the widespread condemnation of this mandate if you read the Facebook/twitter comments

  8. If I was going to Alaska, I would not abide by this requirement, as it is clearly unconstitutional.

  9. “Wow you’ve got some crazy constitutionalist followers today.”

    The same Russian bots as every day.

    This is a joke. The Trumpists will simply ignore it (as one boasts he will do above) and will then disappear into the state.

    Policies like this that have no teeth and no enforcement mechanisms are just for show and will quickly fail. Expect COVID spread to explode across Alaska. Given the way the state works (tiny, isolated communities with little or no health care infrastructure) there’s going to be a lot of dead bodies piling up. And it’s so hard to dig mass graves with that permafrost…

    It’s joke policies like these that will leave Americans banned from international travel for another year, while nationals from other, more adult countries will be free to travel anywhere they want to. You can thank the MAGA set for that.

    Hawaii seems to be taking it seriously and getting it right. Good for them.

  10. @ Mark Anderson — I was thinking the same thing! This seems like a step in the right direction for Alaska and a way forward for tourism reopening. But agree that the rest of the country has to get to a place were we can and should have a test for anyone that wants it, symptomatic or not. I do think we’ve made some strides in this direction, but more is needed.

  11. Bobo you are a joke! I live in Alaska and tourism is an essential industry here. How do you expect people to pay their bills in this very expensive environment. Go back to hiding under your rock!

  12. “Its not constitutional.”

    Yes it is. States control quarantine and other public health measures within their own borders. They are not permitted under the constitution to block inter-state travel (or entry into the United States from abroad). However, once you’re within the state, you’re subject to state’s public health laws and regulations, and they absolutely have the power to regulate quarantine or self-isolation… no matter how much of a keyboard warrior you want to be.

  13. More theatre around trying to reduce the headline case number at any and all cost. I hope Alaska is saving some testing capacity to do _daily_ testing of all hospital staff and nursing home personnel. These are the true vectors of transmission in the vulnerable population which actually die of this. We really really need to wake up. This is your daily reminder to – looking at the numbers; protect the vulnerable; save the economy.

  14. BuT oUr FrEeDoMs!?!?!?!?!? Goddamn Americans. Here in Australia domestic travel has been restricted for month, with some states remaining closed to outsiders. But look at how we’ve contained the spread versus America…

  15. You might want to add the State of Alaska to your article and not just show an Alaska Airlines plane.

  16. Alaska better decide real soon if they are going to leave these communist travel restrictions in place. I am about two days away from canceling my entire trip to Alaska this summer.

    Alaska is actually more restrictive that this article states once you start reading the fine print. If you get tested 5 days prior to your trip, you must still agree to a second test at the airport, and a third test 7-14 days after arrival. You could be waiting days or weeks for test results, during which time you must be in quarantine. They want an address on the form, and cell phone number in Alaska so they can track you. If you get tested less than 72 hours prior to your trip, in theory you don’t need to get retested at the airport, but that is only if you can provide proof of negative test results. In practice, you will not have test results back prior to your trip. Even if you could provide negative test results, you still must consent to retesting 7-14 days after arrival in Alaska. In all cases, you must quarantine at your own expense while you wait for test results.

    Even if you get into Alaska, note the following follow-up restriction. “All travel to or from a community off the road system or marine highway system is prohibited, except as necessary for critical personal needs or critical infrastructure. This mandate is in effect until rescinded.”

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