Some Kenai and Soldotna buildings are closing to the public following Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s emergency message.
That message was publicized a day before the Kenai Peninsula Borough reported 90 new cases of COVID-19, a record. The borough has one of the highest coronavirus case rates in the state.
Kenai City Hall will close to the public for the remainder of the month. The Kenai Community Library will also be closed then, though curbside pickup and book drops will remain open in the interim.
The Kenai Ice Rink will stay open to Central Peninsula residents only starting Monday. City Manager Paul Ostrander said that’s because the facility is partly outdoors. Masks are already required at the rink.
The Kenai Municipal Airport Terminal, with the exception of administrative offices, will also stay open to the public.
Ostrander said the Nov. 30 date was based on Dunleavy’s advice. The governor asked cities to have employees work from home through the end of the month.
Closures may last longer if things stay the same or get worse, Ostrander said.
The Kenai Chamber of Commerce is also closed to the public until Dec. 7 as of 2 p.m. today.
That means Christmas Comes to Kenai on Nov. 27 will look different, too. The outdoor elements of the event will remain intact, including caroling, the electric lights parade and fireworks, but there will be no photos with Santa. He will still be riding into town on a firetruck at 5:30 p.m., said Executive Director Brittany Brown.
The City of Soldotna took similar steps last night. Starting today, the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex and Soldotna Public Library will be closed to the public. Like the Kenai library, the Soldotna library will continue to offer curbside pick-up service.
The front lobbies of Soldotna City Hall and the Soldotna Police Department will stay open to the public, though masks will be required.
Soldotna has not yet set a date for reopening its facilities.
The recent spike in cases has also prompted the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District to shift most of its pre-k, kindergarten and special needs students, who were attending classes in person, to remote learning. Six of the district’s smallest schools continue to operate at low-risk and are meeting face-to-face.