Navajo Nation extends curfews after uptick in COVID-19 cases
The Navajo Nation has extended its nightly curfew and implemented more weekend long curfews to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Starting Friday Oct. 2, updated daily curfew hours for the Navajo Nation are 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., starting an hour earlier than they were this month. Businesses are limited to operating between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
The nation will also continue to implement weekend lockdowns for the next two weekends in October and they will also be longer, starting 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2 through 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 5. The same lockdown schedule will be in place for the weekend of October 9-12.
"The intent and purpose of this ... is to restrict the movement of individuals on the Nation for a 57-hour period," the Public Health Order from the Navajo Department of Health said.
All businesses — including stores, gas stations and restaurants — were ordered to close during the weekend curfews, the order states.
Residents would be allowed to farm, tend to livestock and exercise outdoors within five miles of their homes during the curfews. Wood collection and hauling would also be allowed for people with permits, the order states.
Anyone who violates the curfews risks being issued criminal nuisance citations that could include a fine of up to $1,000 or 30 days in jail, officials previously announced. Non-residents traveling through the Navajo Nation during the weekend curfews could also be cited; however, most were given a warning, according to Navajo Police Department spokesperson Christina Tsosie. She said the outcome varied by situation.
Throughout this month, weekend curfews had been lessened to 32 hours.
The Navajo Nation has seen an upward trajectory of positive COVID-19 cases in the past 10 days, according to the order. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez tweeted a statement Tuesday that the nation reported 20 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the Navajo Nation's total positive COVID-19 case count to 10,333, with 555 deaths.
"These cluster cases are a direct result of family gatherings and off-Reservation travel. They also have the potential to lead to an outbreak and another surge in cases on the Navajo Nation, which may overwhelm the health care system on the Navajo Nation if not mitigated immediately," the order said.
The Navajo Department of Health said that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick.
"We cannot force anyone to stay home during the curfew and lockdown hours, but it is the only way that our numbers of COVID-19 cases will slow and reduce," Nez said in the statement.
Republic reporter Chelsea Curtis contributed to this article.