Navajo Nation lockdown changed from weekend-long to daily curfew

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Vehicles move on U.S. Highway 491 in the north side of Shiprock during the weekend lockdown on April 25. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez signed an executive order to end the restriction for residents on the reservation.

FARMINGTON — The lockdown that has restricted movement during the weekends on the Navajo Nation is going away.

Instead, residents will be under a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. The new regulation to keep people indoors and close to home went into effect on June 3 after Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer signed their latest executive order to address the coronavirus situation on the reservation.

"We are going to stop the 57-hour curfew. We've gone through eight of them, but we still need to be diligent," Nez said during a virtual town hall on Facebook on June 3.

More than 5,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 250 deaths have been attributed to the disease on the Navajo Nation, according to reports from the Navajo Department of Health.

Ten hospitals report approximately 2,000 individuals have recovered from the disease, and the number of events that offer free testing for COVID-19 has increased.

The executive order continues the closure of divisions, departments and offices under the executive branch to July 5 and keeps the tribe under a state of emergency.

A homemade sign reminds motorists on Navajo Route 36 to follow the stay at home order by the Navajo Department of Health to combat the coronavirus. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez signed an executive order on June 3 to end the weekend lockdown for residents on the reservation.

Nez explained the extension was made because measure No. 0116-20 has yet to be determined by the Navajo Nation Council. The legislation, which is backed by Nez, distributes the $600 million the tribe received under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

The bill has $50.5 million for immediate spending, including money earmarked to disinfect tribal government facilities, to reconfigure offices and to provide personal protective equipment to employees, he said.

According to the June 1 press release from Nez's office, the bill would spend $300 million for water infrastructure and agriculture projects, $100 million for power line and solar power infrastructure, $50 million for broadband and telecommunication, $50 million for scholarships for Navajo students entering medical and public safety professions, $40 million to assist businesses owned by Navajos and on economic development, and $10 million to address the need for housing.

Nez used the line-item veto authority on an earlier bill — measure No. 0115-20 — that the Navajo Nation Council approved to divide the CARES Act appropriation. His action drew criticism from Speaker Seth Damon, and a bill to override the veto has been introduced.

Begaye Flea Market is pictured on April 25 in Shiprock during a weekend lockdown for residents on the Navajo Nation. Tribal President Jonathan Nez signed an executive order to end the restriction for residents.

The president also announced the cancellation of the Fourth of July celebration in Window Rock, Arizona.

That event was included in a bill to cancel all fairs, rodeos and roping events this year.

The Resources and Development Committee — the first to consider the measure before it proceeds to other assigned committees, then to council for final approval — has yet to consider the bill, according to legislative branch records.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at

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