First Trusty Tusty of the summer arrives

Vehicles and passengers board the M/V Tustumena for departure from Kodiak on June 3.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, passengers boarding the ferries Kennicott, Tustumena and Matanuska must provide a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours before boarding, according to an Alaska Marine Highway System release issued Sunday night. 

Passengers and crew members over the age of 2 will also be required to wear face coverings, except in a stateroom, in a designated smoking area or while eating.

“We know that some people will not be happy with these new mandates, but failure to comply will mean that you will be refused passage, and a refund will be provided,” Kodiak Ferry Terminal Manager Amanda Becker posted in the Friends of Kodiak Facebook group. 

“Given how quickly these boats fill, this also means you could end up waiting quite a while before we can accommodate you again. Those of us who work the terminals and vessels do not have the power to change this, but we are required to enforce it.”

The Kennicott is slated to dock in Kodiak on July 2 and depart to Whittier the same day. The Tustumena, which was supposed to be back in service this week, will return to The Rock on July 3. 

The Tustumena has been out of service since June 6 when a crew member tested positive for COVID-19. Since then, six more crew members have tested positive for COVID-19. The boat, which was in Dutch Harbor at the time, returned to Homer, where it is undergoing a thorough cleaning. 

All passengers on the day vessels LeConte and Lituya must complete a passenger screening form before boarding, while passengers leaving from Bellingham, Washington, must complete a State of Alaska travel declaration form and provide it to AMHS crew. 

Passengers and crew members will not be allowed to go ashore during port calls. 

“The safety of passengers and crew is the highest priority for the Alaska Marine Highway System,” the release said. “AMHS continues to work closely with Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to establish protocols intended to protect everyone during sailings, especially sailings that are longer in duration.”

The state reported 10 new cases — six residents and four non-residents — on Monday, bringing the total number of positive COVID-19 cases to 761 of which 491 have recovered. 

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