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Navajo Nation loosens COVID-19 capacity restrictions on social gatherings


Capacity restrictions on drive-in gatherings have doubled

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  • The Navajo Department of Health on June 18 issued public health emergency order No. 2021-012.
  • The previous public health orders allowed social gatherings like traditional ceremonies to have up to 15 people as indoor church activities could operate at 50 percent.
  • The June 18 public health order did not open up parks and recreation areas managed by the tribe.

FARMINGTON — Navajo Nation health officials are loosening some restrictions on large gatherings including in-person training, social gatherings and outdoor recreational events.

The Navajo Department of Health on June 18 issued public health emergency order No. 2021-012.

Some restrictions on social gatherings were also loosened on April 26 as the nation moved into yellow status under its reopening plan.  

The previous public health orders allowed social gatherings like traditional ceremonies to have up to 15 people and indoor church activities to operate at 50 percent capacity.

It also limited drive-in gatherings to 50 vehicles, which required people to remain in their vehicles and could be held outside of daily curfew hours of 11 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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The new health order on June 18 allows social gatherings of 25 people or fewer, requiring all participants to wear a mask regardless of if they are vaccinated or unvaccinated.

The mask requirement is also included in allowing in-person training for 25 participants or less.

Capacity also increased for traditional ceremonies, allowing up to 25 people or fewer. Capacity for churches and other houses of worship remain at 50 percent capacity for an enclosed space.

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The health order also includes guidance for traditional ceremonies including using a structure with doors and windows open, avoiding the sharing objects, food and items and bringing one's own individual drinking water and supply of pollen/herbs/medicine.

Twenty-five people or less are now permitted for outdoor recreational events. Those activities include motorcycle events, walks, bike rides and runs, according to the health order.

The capacity for drive-in gatherings has increased to 100 vehicles, as long as they continue to adhere to Navajo Health Command Operations Center guidelines.

The June 18 public health order did not open up parks and recreation areas managed by the tribe.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez vetoed a bill from the Navajo Nation Council last week which sought to fully reopen those parks. He hopes to reopen parks at 50 percent capacity in the future to allow those facilities to reopen gradually. 

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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