The City of Wrangell has issued a shelter in place order amid the spread of coronavirus. The city expects folks to take the message to heart, but it has little power for widespread enforcement.
At an impromptu meeting Sunday, the Wrangell assembly unanimously voted in favor of a “shelter in place” order. This is similar to statewide mandates in New York and California, and now, in Alaska municipalities like Ketchikan and Sitka.
Wrangell’s take on this looks like efforts throughout the nation. Residents should only leave their homes for grocery shopping, checking the mail box, filling prescriptions and other essential activities. Likewise, if you provide an essential service at your job, expect to keep working.
“If you are in what I’d call the supply chain, we need to keep stores open,” Mayor Steve Prysunka says. “By no means is this meant to shut down those organizations and businesses.”
If workplaces can function remotely, then there’s no need to shut down.
City officials reiterated this does not limit folks from outdoor activities, just outdoor gatherings.
The city issued its first local mandate last week, which banned gatherings or ten or more people. Since then, the city has discussed how these measures can actually be enforced.
“We cannot create a law that puts people in jail for what we’re doing,” Prysunka says. “At the end of the day, to be honest with everyone, this is voluntary.”
Police can issue warnings, fines and misdemeanor charges. The police told KSTK Friday that it had not had not issued any fines or charges at that time.
The city has been direct with businesses, regarding its expectations. The city reached out to bars and restaurants last week. The city says Sealevel, Alaska Crossings, and the Forest Service have been asked to not bring any new personnel or clients to the island.
The mandate is in effect indefinitely as of Sunday at 6pm. As of Sunday evening, there are no cases of coronavirus on the island.