Kenai Peninsula Borough attorney Colette Thompson, along with other second grade attorneys, has pushed back allegations that their counties are able to issue mask mandates in response to COVID-19.
In a November 18 letter to Alaska’s Acting Attorney General Ed Sniffen, the attorneys describe specific laws prohibiting second-class counties from issuing masked mandates in response to a pandemic.
Earlier this month, Sniffen told reporters in an online briefing that municipalities, including second-class counties, can use face masks with their disaster relief workers, the Fairbanks Daily News miner reported.
According to the letter, the Alaska Statute “does not authorize a political division to carry out responsibilities that it is not otherwise authorized to perform” during an emergency.
The letter states that in the event of an emergency, second class districts can set up emergency shelters directly related to the emergency, maintain a website with updated information with relevant information for residents, and coordinate with other private and public bodies working under other disaster control operations do other things.
“Second class counties have no ‘police powers’ or general health and social services and cannot implement measures to protect the health, safety and well-being of their citizens, as your office suggests,” the letter said.
In addition to Thompson, the letter was signed by Jill S. Dolan, Attorney at Fairbanks North Star, Nicholas Spiropoulos, Attorney at Mat-Su, and Glenn Brown, Ketchikan Gateway. The letter was also signed by Attorney Joseph Levesque for Bristol Bay Borough and Aleutians East Borough and Scott Brandt-Erichsen for Kodiak Island Borough.
Seward recently revived its mask mandate and is the only city on the peninsula to have enacted one.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at [email protected]