Indoor dining returns under Navajo Nation's latest public health order

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, right, and Vice President Myron Lizer give the State of the Nation address to the Navajo Nation Council at the spring session on April 19 from the presidential office in Window Rock, Arizona.

FARMINGTON — Indoor dining at restaurants on the Navajo Nation returns as the tribe moved on April 26 into yellow status under its reopening plan.

The yellow status means restaurants are allowed 25% capacity for indoor dining while restaurants with permanent outdoor dining can operate at 50% capacity.

Drive-thru and curbside pickup can continue at restaurants and other businesses can operate at 50% capacity.

All businesses are required to submit reopening plans to the Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development before reopening, according to the public health emergency order by the Navajo Department of Health.

The entire order is available on the department's website, ndoh.navajo-nsn.gov/covid-19.

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Health officials for the Navajo Nation recently OK'd access to the tribe's parks and recreation areas to those who live on the tribal land and to tribal members and tribal government employees.

Order reopens parks, marinas to Navajo Nation residents

Department officials released public health orders last week that outline conditions for businesses and for residents to follow as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Under the order for businesses, parks and marinas can reopen at 25% capacity and only to those who live on the Navajo Nation and to tribal members and tribal government employees.

Businesses that operate tours must follow guidelines for reopening set by the Navajo Health Command and Operations Center.

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Casinos under the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise can operate at 50% capacity, but only residents of the Navajo Nation, tribal members and employees can access facilities.

Museums can reopen at 25% capacity.

The order reminds the public that the tribal land remains closed to tourists and visitors; this includes tribal parks and recreation sites.

Flea markets, roadside markets, programs for youth, gymnasiums, recreation facilities and movie theaters remain closed.

Daily curfew revised for residents

The order continues the mandate the wearing of face masks in public, but the daily curfew for residents is now 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., Mountain Daylight Time.

The order allows for social gatherings, including traditional ceremonies, of up to 15 people. Indoor church services can operate at 50% capacity, and face masks and social distancing are required for all activities.

Drive-in gatherings are limited to 50 vehicles. This activity is allowed outside of curfew hours and participants are required to remain in vehicles, wear face masks and no person-to-person contact.

The tribe's transition to yellow status comes as health officials reported 57 new cases of COVID-19 from April 23 to April 25.

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"We continue to take cautious steps to gradually reopen. We transitioned to 'orange status' several weeks ago and the number of COVID-19 infections has remained relatively low and we recently had 10 consecutive days with zero deaths reported," tribal President Jonathan Nez said.

He added that over half of the adult population on the Navajo Nation have been fully vaccinated, but officials want that percentage to increase before considering reopening the land to visitors.

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

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