Navajo Nation Announces Phased Reopening Next Week

Arizona’s Navajo Nation is preparing to reopen at 25% operating capacity as early as next week, the tribal operator announced on Thursday.

After two months of forcible shut-down, the Navajo Nation is finally restarting business, the tribal operator said on Thursday. The phased reopening should begin at some point next week as most businesses have been given green light to continue operations starting on Monday, August 17.

However, the state expects any business reopening to run at 25% maximum occupancy for the time being, as per the Navajo Department of Health’s health guides. There will be various services restored, including drive-through points for dining establishments, and reopening marinas, parks, salons and barbershops, among others.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez explained that the reopening was just step one in bringing the pandemic under control and a lot more work had to be put in. Here is what Nez had to say:

“Through contact tracing, we are learning more about the movement of the virus and we know that the fight is not over, but we have to find new ways to move forward.”

He cautioned that the company had to be careful and reopen slowly and in accordance to the latest health standards and recommendations. Nez added that reopening without taking into consideration the seriousness of the virus could easily revert the achieved progress.

He cited the previous opening attempts across the United States in May, which led to another spike in cases. Globally, the virus has kept spreading affecting over 21 million with no end in sight.

A Gradual Approach to Reopening

Arizona is also one of the states to be the most severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, which ordained the belated reopening of businesses. Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer offered an update of the recent situation:

“The Navajo Nation has had 49 consecutive days with less than 100 reported daily cases of COVID-19, and 14 consecutive days under 50 daily cases.”

On the day of announcing the reopening plans on Thursday, the Nava Nation had registered 9,349 COVID-19 cases and 478 people have passed away. Some 7,000 people have recovered, however.

Navajo will follow a color-coded reopening plan where specific areas will be given a rating whether the cases in those specific areas allow the tribal operator to restart operation there or has to wait.

According to the health department’s current analysis, the Navajo Nation still constitutes an “orange” risk, meaning “moderate-high restrictions” status, or in this case, health and safety standards along with reduced capacity.

The reopening efforts can be stemmed should the area in which the Navajo Nation are based becomes too susceptible to disease or starts posting higher COVID-19 infection rates. Previously, the Navajo Nation warned employees to prepare for not receiving payment due to the growing economic crisis.

Finally, the tribal operator is able to offer some good news. The road to recovery though is long and treacherous.

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