Bethel to consider emergency ordinances for COVID-19

by Greg Lincoln

“We must take steps to protect our community and region from further harm and loss,” states an emergency ordinance from Bethel’s Mayor Michelle DeWitt regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.

The City of Bethel council’s agenda has several emergency ordinances pertaining to public health and the COVID-19 pandemic for their August 10th, 2021 meeting.

The first one is Emergency Ordinance 21-28: Extending the Declaration of Emergency. This ordinance, if passed, finds the existence of a public health emergency related to the COVID-19 outbreak, incorporates the declaration of a local disaster emergency issued by the Acting City Manager and Mayor on March 24, 2020; seeks state and federal funding assistance; and issues certain health advisories, and requests consistent with state and federal law.

The second EO is 21-39. This extends Ordinance 21-31: Testing and Quarantine Mandates and Exemptions.

“Bethel City Council finds it necessary to apply state public health mandates regarding travel to Bethel in order to contain the transmission of COVID-19 within its borders,” states EO 21-31. “Bethel City Council has the authority to implement temporary local travel mandates relating to air travel to Bethel from outside the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region to mitigate COVID-19 within its borders and to protect the health of its residents…”

And EO 21-40 establishes a mandate within the City of Bethel that masks or similar face-coverings be worn in public in indoor and indoor-adjacent spaces, and under certain conditions in outdoor spaces during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

And lastly, Emergency Ordinance 21-41 which prevents water shut off for non-payment for an additional 60 days.

“The City of Bethel Utility Billing department has a number of residents that face water shut off because of delinquencies in payment, during this public health emergency it is imperative the City of Bethel continue to provide this necessary service to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” it says.