By Associated Press - Thursday, July 2, 2020

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Anchorage officials and trade groups have announced new suggested guidelines they hope bars and restaurants will adopt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Anchorage health officials said several entertainment and hospitality businesses in the municipality have been linked to recent COVID-19 cases, The Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday.

The suggestions were announced during a Wednesday briefing by Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, Anchorage Health Department Director Natasha Pineda and trade group officials.

They include closing earlier and admitting fewer customers, requiring patrons to wear masks, adding outdoor seating and taking steps to limit circumstances that reduce physical distancing.

The Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association and the Anchorage Economic Development Corp. participated in the development of the proposed guidelines.

Several people visited Anchorage establishments from June 20 to 29 while they were infectious and did not wear masks or maintain physical distancing, Pineda said.

Officials said 15 new confirmed cases are associated with local bars, a strip club and a restaurant. Seven cases were connected to a hotel and five cases were linked to a tourism company.

“In this last week, we’ve had a lot of cases that are associated with locations where there’s well over 100 people that they may have interacted with, and we can’t trace or contact any of them,” Pineda said.

The city notified the establishments associated with cases and asked them to share the information with their patrons and employees. One of the businesses had a log book, which the city is using to send messages to customers, Pineda said.

If the businesses are not willing to share information with their patrons, the city will publish information about locations and infectious periods during which customers came into contact with the virus, Pineda said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some - especially older adults and people with existing health problems - it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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