Big questions about the state of Ketchikan’s economy and the future of the cruise industry top a crowded agenda for Thursday’s Ketchikan City Council meeting.
Council Member Mark Flora is set to lead a discussion on the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In an email included with the meeting agenda, Flora says business owners have been reaching out to local policymakers in search of guidance to better plan for the summer visitor season — if one is to take place at all.
Separately, Council Member Sam Bergeron suggests forming a regional consortium of Southeast Alaska cruise ports to determine a set of criteria that must be met before the cruise season can resume. Bergeron says that could include coronavirus testing requirements for cruise passengers.
“I’m all for resuming our economic activity as long as we have the tools in our tool bag to do it, and that we resume our activities based on the best science available,” Bergeron told KRBD in a phone interview Monday.
City Manager Karl Amylon writes in a memo that other municipalities he’s contacted say they’re open to working together on the issue.
Meanwhile, Amylon is asking the City Council whether small cruise ships of less than 250 people should be allowed to dock in Ketchikan starting in June. They’re not subject to a federal no-sail order that remains in effect for large cruise ships.
City officials say ships are unlikely to return while a mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers remains in effect. That mandate is scheduled to be re-evaluated May 19, and local officials say it’s likely to be done away with in the near future as Alaska’s economy slowly reopens.
Ketchikan’s City Council meets at 7 p.m. Thursday by teleconference. It can be streamed online at the city’s website and is broadcast on local cable channels.
Those who would like to speak during public comment can call the clerk’s office at 228-5658 prior to the meeting. Written comments can be emailed to the clerk’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org prior to 4 p.m. Thursday.