Navajo Nation orders new three-week stay-at-home lockdown

The Navajo Nation on Monday will reinstate a stay-home lockdown order for the entire reservation while closing tribal offices and requiring new closures and safety measures for businesses due to rising COVID-19 cases

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation on Monday will reinstate a stay-at-home lockdown for the entire reservation while closing tribal offices and requiring new closures and safety measures for businesses due to rising COVID-19 cases.

The lockdown goes into effect Monday for a three-week period, tribal officials announced Friday night. A previously ordered 56-hour weekend curfew began Friday night.

The Navajo Nation Department of Health on Wednesday warned residents of new “uncontrolled spread” of the virus in 34 communities on the reservation.

On Saturday, tribal officials said the huge reservation had 172 new cases and no recent deaths, increasing the total of cases to 13,249 with 598 deaths.

Tribal officials already have urged residents to wear face masks, practice social distancing and limit gatherings to less than five people.

Nez’s statement said a new executive order requires government offices and enterprises to close beginning Nov. 16 thru Dec. 6, with the exception of essential employees. It also requires that all schools on the reservation operate online.

A separate new public health emergency order implements the three-week stay-home lockdown order and restricts travel off the Navajo Nation and in-person gatherings, the statement said.

“Individuals may leave their place of residence only for emergencies or to perform essential activities such as obtaining food or groceries, obtaining medicine, gathering firewood with appropriate permit, and others,” the statement said.

Only essential businesses such as gas stations, grocery stores, laundromats and restaurants may remain open and they can only be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and must enforce masking and distancing the statement said.

The reservation spans more than 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers).

Most people experience mild or moderate symptoms with the coronavirus, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.