The city of Kodiak adopted an ordinance allowing the suspension of upcoming city council meetings to ensure public health in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Alaska.
The city plans to cancel meetings until the end of March, though councilors, staff and the mayor can meet for special meetings if needed.
“With this ordinance today we are going to be flexible on how we come together,” City Manager Mike Tvenge said at a city council meeting on Wednesday. “I'm going to be able to make decisions here that are going to affect the community and I will keep you informed as much as possible.”
The ordinance will give the city council the flexibility to cancel meetings or have them by phone. It will also allow the council to vote by phone, which is not typically allowed. The ordinance will take effect immediately and last 60 days.
Tvenge also announced that 10 city employees were told to self-quarantine for 14 days. All of them had recently returned from vacations in states with the coronavirus.
Of the employees in self-quarantine, those who cannot work from home will be paid administrative leave. Moving forward, city staff wanting to take vacation will need to use their sick leave to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return.
“If we can isolate and keep people from getting sick, we are all the better for it,” Tvenge said. “Isolation is so important. If we could just keep people from traveling for a while, we could keep it at zero cases.”
According to Tvenge, two barges per week continue to deliver supplies to the island, and while some items are limited, there is no food shortage.
"People might have to adapt for a bit with what they are eating, when they shop or just stay at home," said City Mayor Pat Branson.
The mayor also said the Kodiak Area Transit System bus will be able to transport at-risk shoppers during Safeway’s special hours on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
With the recent closure of bars, restaurants and other city businesses, Councilor John Whiddon asked the council how to help boost the economy when the time comes.
“How do we restart our economy? What can we do as a city? What resources do we have available to restart these businesses?” Whiddon asked.
He suggested offering a stimulus package that would forgive sales tax remittance for several months. He also recommended a collaboration between private and public sectors.
“I would suggest a blend of public and private effort on restarting the economy once we get to that point because we might have access to grants and federal (and) state funding,” Whiddon said.