Navajo Nation to allow ‘soft reopening’ of some businesses

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation officials cited a declining number of new COVID-19 cases and other improving conditions as they announced a new public health order that will allow some businesses to reopen under certain restrictions.

"This is not a full reopening as some states are doing," Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said. "Instead, this is a carefully-crafted soft reopening that includes specific guidelines to continue helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while allowing more businesses to reopen at no more than 25% capacity, along with strict provisions."

Officials cited testing availability, hospital capacity and contact tracing in addition to the decrease in new cases as factors in the transition.

The Navajo Nation is moving from "red status" to "orange status" overall.

The new provisions for businesses under the orange status include:

  • All businesses will be required to submit a COVID-19 Reopening Plan to the Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development before reopening. Reopening plans can be emailed to:
  • 25% capacity allowed for most businesses
  • Restaurants and dining facilities: drive-thru and curbside permissible
  • Restaurants with permanent outdoor dining structures may provide outdoor dining at 25% of maximum capacity, as long as social distancing between tables is enforced
  • Restaurants without permanent outdoor dining structures are allowed up to 10 outdoor tables (max 4 persons per table), as long as social distancing between tables is enforced
  • Personal care and services: service by appointment only, allowing time for cleaning between appointments
  • Marinas and parks: appointment only
  • Casinos and video poker: Navajo casinos are allowed to reopen to Navajo Nation residents and employees only, in accordance with a reopening and workplace safety plan
  • Businesses shall limit operations before 6 a.m. and after 8 p.m.
  • Still not allowed in orange status: youth programs, museums, flea markets, roadside markets, gyms, recreation facilities, movie theaters

Officials said a separate new health order will keep the daily curfew for residents of the tribe’s reservation from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. in effect.

Both orders will take effect Monday.

To read the latest public health orders in full, click here.