WINDOW ROCK, Arizona, (ABC4 News) – The Navajo Department of Health has issued a Public Health Emergency Order 2020-022. The order continues the Navajo Nation’s 32-hour partial weekend lockdowns and daily curfew hours through the month of September to help control and prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation.
A press release sent to ABC4 News states: “The new order implements a partial weekend lockdown for the four (4) weekends in September 2020, starting Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, at 9:00 P.M. (MDT) to Monday, Sept. 7, 2020, at 5:00 A.M. (MDT), and continuing the 32-hour partial weekend lockdowns for the weekends of Sept. 12-14, Sept. 19-21, and Sept. 26-28. The daily curfew hours will remain in effect from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. (MDT).”
“As long as there is no vaccine available, there will remain a substantial risk of contracting COVID-19. We have to keep doing everything we can to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The 32-hour partial weekend lockdowns provide time on Saturdays for families to prepare for the upcoming winter season by gathering firewood, food, water, and other supplies. Navajo Nation citizens should not be traveling on weekends because the data shows that when our citizens travel to nearby towns and cities, they put themselves at greater risk of contracting the virus and bringing it home to their loved ones, co-workers, and others. With the Labor Day weekend approaching, we have to remain focused and be diligent to avoid another surge in new COVID-19 cases. Our health care system cannot handle another surge,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.
The release says the Public Health Emergency Order has provisions for drive-in gatherings, including religious gatherings, which are allowed during non-curfew hours only, and requires organizers to ensure that participants remain in their vehicle except to use the restroom, vehicles must also park at least six-feet apart. Participants must wear masks at all times, and maintain social distancing with no direct contact with others. Organizers must also limit the number of people in a restroom to less than five people, ensure that people have access to handwashing stations, sanitizers or gloves, and ensure that high-touch surfaces are regularly disinfected.
“The latest public health emergency order allows some flexibility for drive-in gatherings, which includes strict safety measures to help keep everyone safe. We are listening to the health care experts and frontline workers, and we are doing our best to avoid another spike in new COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation by implementing measures that provide some flexibility but also prioritizing the health of our people. Please use the time on Saturdays to get your homes and families ready for the upcoming winter season,” said Vice President Myron Lizer.
The release also states “All businesses including all stores, gas stations, restaurants, drive-thru food establishments, hay, and all other vendors are required to cease operations and close during the partial weekend lockdowns and daily curfew hours.”
There are a few more things to be aware of: “Individuals are permitted to conduct farming activities and tend to livestock, however, livestock owners must plan ahead to purchase hay and feed – hay vendors will not be allowed to sell during the partial weekend lockdowns and daily curfew hours. Essential Employees reporting to or from duty are exempted from the partial weekend lockdown, but must carry official identification or a letter of designation from their employer on official letterhead which includes a contact name and number for verification.”