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Nation to begin ‘soft reopening’ on March 15


A new public health emergency order issued Wednesday states that the Navajo Nation can begin a “soft reopening” and businesses may reopen at 25% capacity and the Navajo casinos may reopen – but only for Navajo Nation residents.

The order says the Nation can transition from “red” status to “orange” due to measures and indicators that show a declining number of COVID-19 cases, hospital bed usage, contact tracing and test availability.

President Jonathan Nez said, “This is not a full reopening as some states are doing. Instead, this is a carefully crafted, soft reopening that includes specific guidelines to continue helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while allowing more businesses to reopen at no more than 25 percent capacity along with strict provisions.”

Under a separate order, the daily curfew continues from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., seven days a week, with provisions for gatherings.

Both public health orders go into effect on Monday, March 15.

Public health officials said the Nation has met all gating measures and indicators to transition down to orange status due to a consistent downward trajectory in new infections, less than 80% inpatient hospital and ICU bed use, and an infection rate of 0.81 over the last seven days.

As of Wednesday, the Navajo Nation has had 24 consecutive days with less than 50 new cases and 13 consecutive days with less than 25 reported.

As of March 9, the Navajo Area Indian Health Service reported 195,554 total vaccine doses had been received, 141,797 administered, which represents nearly 73% so far. And 52,433 individuals have received a first and second dose of the vaccines.

Among new provisions for businesses are that they are required to submit a COVID-19 Reopening Plan to the Division of Economic Development before reopening. Plans can be emailed to navajoeconomy@navajo-nsn.gov

Drive-thru and curb-side service is permissible for restaurants. Those with permanent outdoor dining structures may provide outdoor dining at 25% of maximum capacity, as long as social distancing between tables is enforced.

Restaurants without permanent outdoor structures are allowed up to 10 outdoor tables (max four persons per table), as long as social distancing between tables is enforced.

Personal care services may be by appointment only and allow time for cleaning between appointments.

Marinas and parks can be by appointment only and casinos and video poker are allowed to open to Navajo Nation residents and employees only, in accordance with a reopening and workplace safety plan.

Businesses are limited to 6 a.m. until after 8 p.m.

Not allowed in orange status are youth programs, museums, flea markets, roadside markets, gyms, recreation facilities and movie theaters.


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