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Critical Infrastructure Guidance

Resources from the Office of Governor Mike Dunleavy, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, and Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Public Health Emergency and State Health Advisories

On 30 Apr, 2021, Gov Dunleavy ended the Public Health Disaster for the State of Alaska. COVID-19 is still creating a Public Health Emergency within the State, which the Dept. of Health and Social Services (DHSS) has responded to by publishing guidance and recommendations to mitigate the spread of the virus within Alaska. While the State of Alaska no longer has Mandates in place to control travel to or within the State, it has published several Health Advisories to inform travelers and employers on the best practices that they should follow in order to protect their workers and limit the spread of the virus. The State COVID-19 Health Advisories are available at: https://covid19.alaska.gov/health-advisories/

Local Emergency Ordinances

Since there are no State-wide travel requirements in effect, many Boroughs and communities have enacted Local Emergency Ordinances (EOs), some which may limit access to their community or enact additional entrance requirements. It is incumbent upon travelers to know and abide by the local EOs of their destination community and any travel hubs they will be transiting through. State Health Advisory 3 (HA-3) provides recommendations to municipal and tribal governments for developing protective measures, including additional considerations for Critical Infrastructure workers and those traveling in pursuit of a critical personal need. HA-3 does not supersede any properly adopted local EOs, or constitute a guarantee of access for CI workers or those traveling for a critical personal need.

Community / Workforce Protective Plans

All businesses in Alaska are strongly encouraged to conduct a thorough review of their business practices and develop a plan to mitigate the potential spread of the virus within their workforce and to their customers. Businesses which have workers traveling to and within the State are strongly encouraged to develop a Community/Workforce Protective Plan (CWPP) in order to safeguard their workers and the communities that they operate in. Recommendations for protective measures during entry travel can be found at: https://covid19.alaska.gov/unified-command/protective-plans/. Additional considerations for workplace protective measures under the Hierarchy of Controls can be found at:  https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework. CI Businesses are no longer required to submit CWPPs to the Unified Command. Local EOs may require businesses operating within a community to provide a copy of their CWPP to the local government or Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Communities which enact this requirement should be aware that the Unified Command is no longer reviewing such plans.

Vaccination of Critical Infrastructure Workers

The State of Alaska is fully open for vaccination of all adults who live or work in Alaska for COVID-19. Seasonal and rotational workers are no longer required to show a letter proving their eligibility. While many employers are facilitating opportunities for their workers to get vaccinated, it is incumbent upon individuals to arrange for their own vaccination, via a combination of employer, medical provider and/or government sponsored events. Information about vaccine availability and appointments is available at: http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/Pages/COVID-19/VaccineAppointments.aspx. Smaller community clinics may not be using the PrepMod system for online appointments, individuals should contact the clinic directly. Individuals should maintain documentation of vaccine received, and ensure that they get any required follow-on shots at the appropriate time.

Mandatory Vaccination of Workers

The State of Alaska is not requiring vaccination for any private sector workers at this time. Under certain circumstances, it may be legal for employers to require vaccination as a condition of employment. Employers who are planning to require vaccination are strongly recommended to consult legal counsel prior to implementing any such policies, to ensure they are not violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or other employment laws. Additionally, in some circumstances, it is legal for private sector businesses (such as cruise lines, lodges or tour guides) to require clients or customers to be vaccinated and/or disclosure their vaccination status in order to purchase or use the business’s services. Further information on COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other Employment Laws is available from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at: https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

Arrival Screening and CI Employee Letters

Beginning 22 May 2021, arrival screening will no longer be conducted at airports in Alaska. Arriving travelers may voluntarily utilize the Safe Travels App at: https://www.alaska.covidsecureapp.com/login.html, in order to register for a free COVID-19 molecular test upon arrival to Alaska. CI workers are no longer required to complete a Traveler Declaration Form online, and show or upload their CI Employee Letter. It is still highly recommended that CI businesses provide their employees with letters, for the purpose of providing clear, written instructions for employees regarding their entry travel, testing and quarantine in accordance with the employer’s CWPP.

Close Contact Quarantine for Congregate Living and Working Conditions

When an individual is identified as a close contact of a confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), they should quarantine for 14 days to reduce the risk of spreading the virus should they become infected. Based on the available evidence, this is the safest course of action. The CDC has also provided Options to Reduce Quarantine for Contacts of Persons with SARS-CoV-2, which details procedures that can shorten Close Contact Quarantine using testing strategies. It is strongly recommended that these strategies not be used to shorten Close Contact Quarantine for unvaccinated persons who live and/or work in close congregate settings.  

Unvaccinated critical infrastructure workers may be allowed to work during their quarantine period if their organization would be unable to maintain operations safely without them. Allowing exposed individuals to continue work carries inherent risk, and should only be done as a last resort to maintain the continuity of essential services. Close Contact Quarantine is different and more critical than Entry Travel Quarantine, when it is not known whether or not someone has been exposed. Allowing an unvaccinated CI worker to continue working during Close Contact Quarantine should be determined on a case-by-case basis, not a blanket policy from the employer’s CWPP.

The CDC has also provided Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People, which includes conditions under which a fully vaccinated person may forego Close Contact Quarantine. The Alaska Dept. of Public Health has published clarifying Public Health Recommendations for Asymptomatic Persons, in order to give employer’s additional guidance when making the risk decision to allow fully vaccinated persons to forego Quarantine. While these recommendations were written specifically for the Seafood Industry, they can also be used as a guide for other CI businesses that have workers in congregate living and working conditions, until the CDC can pass industry-specific guidance.

Testing Requirements for Critical Infrastructure Workers Arriving from International Airports

On 12 January, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released an Order titled  Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States, which went into effect on Tuesday, 26 January 2021. The order requires all airline passengers arriving to the United States directly from a foreign airport to have documented negative COVID-19 test results prior to boarding the aircraft. The requirement has been placed on the airline to screen passengers prior to boarding to ensure that they meet this requirement.

Private sector businesses and public agencies which are part of our Critical Infrastructure workforce should be aware of several considerations regarding the CDC Order:

  • Other than those exemptions noted for aircrews and airline employees who are following the FAA SAFO, there are no other exemptions from this testing requirement granted for CI workers, and no process identified to request exemption. All CI workers arriving from international airports must now also meet the Federal testing requirement, regardless of what is in their employer’s CWPP.
  • This Federal testing requirement also applies to charter flights originating from foreign airports. If a company is bringing in CI workers on a chartered flight, it is incumbent upon the employer to ensure that all passengers meet the Federal testing requirement.
  • The Federal testing requirement does not allow individuals to travel with pending test results, or to travel without a test and receive a test upon arrival.
  • The Federal testing requirements may be met with an FDA-authorized antigen test.
  • Arriving international travelers who have tested positive for COVID-19 within 90 days prior to travel are not require to test, but must provide documentation of positive test results (with personal identifiers that match their travel documents) and a signed letter on official letterhead that contains the name, address and phone number of a licensed healthcare provider of public health official stating that the passenger has been cleared for travel. Recovered prior positives who first contracted the disease more than 90 days prior to travel are required to test.
  • More information regarding this Order and answers to FAQs are available at the CDC website at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html

CDC Masking Order for Transportation

On 21 Jan 21, the Biden Administration released an Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel. The Executive Order directs Federal Agencies to pass guidance to require that masks be worn on all “public maritime vessels, including ferries.” In response, on 29 Jan 21, the CDC released a Requirement for Persons to Wear Masks While on Public Conveyances and in Transportation Hubs. The order requires all persons travelling on all commercial vessels (to include maritime shipping and fishing vessels) to wear a mask. On 23 Mar 21, the CDC published their FAQs for the Mask Order

On 01 Feb 21, the U.S. Coast Guard released a Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) on COVID-19 Safety Requirements in the Maritime Transportation System. The MSIB states that the USCG will enforce the CDC Mask Order on board vessels at sea.

The CDC has published their Interim Guidance for Ships on Managing COVID-19 Cases, which was last updated on 17 Sep 2020. The intent was to pass guidance for all vessels not covered by the cruise ship Conditional Sailing Order (non-passenger vessels). The Interim Guidance for Ships specifically states that it does not apply to seafood processing vessels, and points at-sea processors to the CDC Guidance for Seafood Processing Facilities, which was last updated on 07 Feb 21.

Useful Links

A summary of useful links for CI businesses operating in a COVID-19 environment:

Questions regarding Critical Infrastructure travel may be sent to the Unified Command at: covidquestions@alaska.gov, with “ATTN: Critical Infrastructure” in the email subject line.