Note: On August 11, 2020, the State of Alaska issued this latest Alaska Health Mandate Travel Restrictions. There’s a saying here in Alaska, “Test Before Take-Off.” But the rules to visit Alaska have changed.
Alaska Travel Restrictions Explained
Though cruise ships won’t be heading north to Alaska this season, tourists can still arrive by air or drive up from the Lower 48. The State of Alaska recently removed the required COVID-19 14-day quarantine rule for all incoming travelers. And replaced the old rules with some new confusing travel restrictions.
Now, travelers who arrive by plane to Alaska can forgo a 14-day quarantine only if they test negative for COVID-19, 72 hours before departure to Alaska. Unfortunately, the new requirements can be confusing, even to Alaskans. I’ll try to explain this as simply as possible.
If you want to travel to Alaska, these are the new Travel Requirements when you land at any Alaska airport.
- You must have an official certificate that states you have tested negative for COVID-19 within the past 72 hours prior to departure to Alaska AND
- Submit a Travel Declaration and Self-Isolation Plan through the Travel Declaration Portal.
- If you’re coming to Alaska for work, you must follow the work plan that your employer filed with the State of Alaska.
- If you are unable to take a COVID-19 test done and have the results before you leave home, then you must purchase a COVID-19 test for $250 when you arrive in Alaska. Then you must self-quarantine at your expense until results arrive.
What to do in Alaska if you purchase an airport COVID-19 test and await results
With new Alaska travel restrictions, while you wait for (hopefully) negative test results, you must self-quarantine at your own expense. If you know you will need to purchase the $250 test at the airport, it’s a good idea to have a hotel reservation.
The Travel Declaration form will ask where you plan to self-isolate while waiting for test results. You’ll be able to get meals delivered to your hotel room. You should not stop at the grocery store after you leave the airport.
In some states, it’s still not possible to get a coronavirus test if you don’t have symptoms. Plus, you have to wait for the results and it can take up to several days to find out if you’re negative. You may be stuck with paying for the test when you land in Alaska plus hotel.
Once those results show that you are negative for COVID-19, it is recommended that you take a second test within 7 to 14 days after arrival. During this time you are asked to minimize interactions until the second test is confirmed negative. Chances are you’ve already completed your vacation by that time.
The previous Alaska travel restriction gave free coronavirus tests at the airport and required you self-quarantine for 14 days, at your own expense. Too many incoming visitors did not comply so the new, more restrictive mandate was issued.
What you can expect at an Alaska airport
Airports in Alaska have restricted entrance and exit doors so that only travelers are allowed inside. If you purchase a test, they are being conducted at all airports when you enter the airport.
With Alaska’s COVID-19 cases spiking in the last few weeks, the state is trying to minimize the infection rate coming in from the Lower 48. The entire state only has 198 ICU beds and many communities are really remote so it’s crucial to be as cautious and careful here as possible.
Driving to Alaska – Travel Restrictions Still Apply
Last, if you thought you would drive to Alaska from the south, that may not be possible. Canada’s borders are still closed to almost all U.S. vehicular traffic. There’s a large swath of Canada between Washington State and the Yukon. Check with Canada’s Department of Health for their requirements before you pack your bags.
Last time I checked, you were not allowed to overnight anywhere in Canada. You will receive an in-transit sticker for your windshield and have to take the most direct route to Alaska through British Columbia and Yukon Territory. No hotel stops permitted.
How to plan your trip to Alaska
Alaska-based small ship cruise season started and stopped. Planning your trip here this year is complicated. If it were me, I’d pass on 2020 and look forward to a hopefully better Alaska travel season in 2021.
More Cruise Maven Articles about Alaska