Since June 5, travelers entering the state of Alaska have had the option of providing proof of a negative test result for COVID-19 to forgo what had previously been a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals into the state.
There are a few ways travelers can provide their results that will pass muster with Alaska authorities. You can provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result for a test that was taken within 72 hours prior to your arrival, or you can take a COVID-19 test once you arrive in Alaska, but you will need to self-quarantine at your own expense until the results are ready. You could also choose to arrive with a negative COVID-19 test result that was taken within 5 days of your arrival in Alaska, but you would then need to take a second test within 7 to 14 days after arriving and “minimize interactions” until the second test result is ready. Travelers age 10 and under are exempt.
The COVID-19 tests that travelers need to have performed while in Alaska due to the above requirements were initially free, but as of August 11, the free testing is only available to Alaska residents. Nonresidents can receive a test for $250 at the airport, and there are testing locations throughout the state.
For travelers who choose to skip the testing altogether, they will be required to quarantine for 14 days at their own expense before continuing on with their Alaska adventure.
In addition to providing COVID-19 test results or opting for the quarantine, travelers must complete and submit a State of Alaska Travel Declaration Form, either online or via paper forms that will be available upon arrival. If you fill out the form online, you can either print out a copy or provide electronic proof of it along with your COVID-19 test results at your port of entry. The form requires you to confirm which option—the COVID-19 test or quarantine—you are committing to and to provide your quarantine location if you choose to go that route. Providing false information on the form is considered a felony, and violating self-quarantine rules is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 or up to one year in jail.
Getting to Alaska
There are ample flights available to Alaska from throughout the United States on numerous carriers, including on Alaska Airlines, Delta, and American.
Travelers should be aware that since March 21, all nonessential travel between Canada and the United States has been prohibited—for those who were hoping to head to Alaska from or through Canada. The Canadian border closure is currently set to expire on September 21, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Cruising is basically off the table for Alaska this year. The majority of cruises to Alaska have been canceled for the 2020 season—Carnival Cruises, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, and Disney Cruise Line have all canceled their 2020 Alaska sailings due to the coronavirus pandemic and the particular challenges it has posed for the cruise industry. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently has a “no sail” order in place prohibiting cruising due to public health concerns through September 30, 2020.
What is open in Alaska?
Currently, travelers in Alaska can only visit communities located along the state’s main roads or marine highway system. Nonessential travel to remote communities is prohibited.
As of May 22, cabins, RV parks, campsites, hotels, and leisure accommodations were all allowed to resume operations with social-distancing measures and health, cleaning, and hygiene measures put in place. Bars, restaurants, museums, theaters, and swimming pools have all been allowed to reopen as well, as long as they follow state-issued guidance on how to operate safely.
Denali National Park is open, and an outdoor Denali Visitor Center opened on July 1, 2020 (with daily hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). The park is implementing a timed-entry road permit reservation system to allow some cars to travel the Denali Park Road, which you can book at recreation.gov.
Safety measures in place in Alaska
The state of Alaska recommends wearing face masks indoors and when social distancing is a challenge. Authorities remind travelers to refer to CDC guidance on healthy travel habits, including frequently washing hands, social distancing, and covering coughs.
>> Next: AFAR’s Ultimate Alaska Travel Guide